‘We have to invest in ourselves’

Jon Knochenmus listens as a Balaton City Council member makes a point during Monday night’s Balaton City Council meeting. Knochenmus discussed his pending purchase of the golf course in Balaton and said he wants to do what’s best for the city as he looks to make changes for the better at the course.

Prospective Eastbay 9 Golf Course buyer Jon Knochenmus says he
has his hometown ‘s best interests at heart as he plans future changes

By Per Peterson

The City of Balaton, and one of its most well-known families, has plans for a bright future, and part of those plans hinge on what happens with Eastbay 9 Golf Course, and the Eastbay Addition as a whole.
On Monday night at the Balaton City Council meeting, Balaton native Jon Knochenmus spoke in length to the council and a number of Balaton residents to give insight on his vision as he prepares to close on the purchase of the golf course.
“We’re getting set to buy this golf course,” Knochenmus said. “We want to promote that area, get people building, to get those taxes down. We have to invest in ourselves. If we don’t invest in ourselves, no one else will. We’re excited about Balaton and always have been. Hopefully we can make a positive impact.”
The purchase agreement between the City of Balaton and Knochenmus includes Outlot “A” and original Plat Lot 10, Block 4, Lot 1, Block 2, all in Balaton Eastbay Addition, and Lots 2-4 of Block 2, together with all buildings and improvements there, as well as all drainage easements belonging to the City of Balaton.
The Council voted to rezone Lot 2 of Block 2 — the first lot east of the golf course clubhouse — to R3 to allow for future clubhouse expansion. The one potential sticking point to the current option agreement is Knochenmus’ request for first right of refusal — a topic the council will take up in the future.
“I don’t see what the city has to lose there,” Knochenmus said. “If somebody comes along and wants to buy the lot, we’re probably not going to hold them back.”
Knochenmus said he can’t say what exactly the future plans are for the clubhouse, but “we’re going to do something. We have to do some more research to see what we can build. But want to build something nice so people can sit inside …”
The purchase price listed in the option agreement is $99,000 ($500 earnest money, and $98,500 due at closing).
Balaton resident Larry Benson expressed his concerns about Eastbay Addition to the council. Benson said residents need more information on the city’s plans for Eastbay.
“I’d just like to have some assurance that any non-residential activity in Lots 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in Block 3 and 2, 3, 4 of Block 2 is not going to affect our quality of life,” Benson said. “I just hope it will not affect my property in a negative manner, or my neighborhood.”
Benson said he’d also like to know what the future holds for Blocks 1 and 8.
“If you have any idea of what’s going to go in there, we’d like to know,” he said.
Benson said the city is “in this together” and would like to see things happen that would benefit all of the city’s residents. He said he’s concerned about the perception created by a 4×8 plywood 50 percent off sign, which refers to Eastbay lot prices.
“That’s what I see, and I think a lot of people see the same thing I see,” Benson said. “Maybe with a little bit of help and some insight, we can remedy that problem.”
Balaton council member Greg Erickson answered Benson by saying one of the lots — Lot 8 in the northeast corner of East Bay — will be the home to a storage unit.

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.