WALNUT CREEK -- To understand just how rundown the clubhouse at the Boundary Oak Golf Course is, a trip to the cart barn tells the story.

While the golf carts may be safely parked in the dark and dank garage, drips fall from the ceiling above. This unsanitary situation is caused by the kitchen floor above, which was never properly sealed; when the floor is mopped, the water seeps through to the cart barn below.

But that may be about to change.

The more than 40-year-old city-owned facility is likely to undergo some serious renovation. The City Council on Tuesday took a first step toward cleaning up a building that has seen deferred maintenance for decades.

The council allocated $353,000 for the design phase of remodeling the clubhouse. All of the money comes from revenue generated by the course itself, and none from the general fund. The next step will be for the city to issue $5.8 million in revenue bonds to pay for the renovation. The loan would be paid back through user fees. The council will make its final decision on issuing the bonds in the next few months.

City leaders say an upgrade to the clubhouse is necessary for the course to make more money on private special events.

"We really need to make this a first-class facility, where people want to go and get married," said City Engineer Steve Waymire.

Things like the antiquated bathrooms and outdated fixtures will all be redone, as will the pro shop and snack bar. Also, an outdoor patio will be added.

But the most costly fixes are ones most people won't see, such as plumbing and electrical work

"From an engineer's standpoint, this building is sad," Waymire said.

Councilwoman Loella Haskew said the clubhouse has gotten "drearier and drearier" over the years -- so much so that she often doesn't look forward to events held there.

The course sits at the edge of the Lime Ridge Open Space, and the clubhouse has fantastic views overlooking the course and the city. A few golfers spoke at Tuesday's meeting agreeing that the renovation is long overdue; some pointed out that the course brings the city sales tax, and so should be taken care of.

A revenue bond, for which user fees from the business are used to pay the debt, is not new at Boundary Oak. A revenue bond was used to build the course in the 1960s, and another was used in 1997 for new irrigation.

The proposed finance plan calls for the city to issue $7 million in bonds, with a 25 year term and an interest rate of 4 percent. The $1.2 million left on the 1997 irrigation bonds would be paid off with the new revenue bonds and the remaining $5.8 would go toward the renovation. The total interest that would be paid over the life of the bonds would be $4.7 million.

To do this, the City Council does have to use the general fund as financial backing. That means that if the course for some reason wasn't making enough money and couldn't pay the debt, the city would be on the hook.

While the renovation will mean course disruption and close the clubhouse, course officials say in the end it will grow the events side of the business by at least 36 percent.

Councilman Bob Simmons said he wants to see the city adhere to its own climate action plan and integrate environmental friendly building practices from the start. He and others commented that having the people who use the course be the ones who pay back the loan is the right move. In the future, other city facility upgrades should be paid for by the users as well, he said.

Councilman Justin Wedel said he favors the project but said the plan "fails to look at replacement costs long term."

Other council members said the clubhouse has been around for decades and this kind of renovation should be paid for in this way.

If the council issues the bond this year then construction could begin in 2014 with the renovations complete by the summer of 2015.

Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.