BY KURT ANAST
Misconceptions Regarding Golf Course Improvements
I have read a number of letters and op-eds related to the golf course improvements. Many of these have created some misconceptions regarding the effort.
Council appropriated CIP funds in 2017 to complete as many golf course deferred maintenance items as possible and address the driving range safety concern. So far these funds were used in 2020 to replace the old irrigation system and now $1.9M remain.
Last fall the P&RB advised Council to use the remaining funds ($1.9M) on deferred maintenance items like tee boxes, sand traps, greens, cart paths and areas in disrepair. Council agreed and directed staff to begin working on these deferred maintenance items ASAP with the goal of completing them in 2022. Council further directed staff to hire an architect to help with bid documents but also to provide some options for extending the practice range to alleviate a long-standing safety concern.
The architect has since been hired and is working on both the deferred maintenance items (Phase I) as well as options to extend the driving range and alter the golf course to accommodate practice range extension (Phase II). At the July 14 P&RB meeting the architect presented four options for Phase II. The P&RB then passed a motion (6 yes & 1 abstain) advising Council that the P&RB recommends Option A.
All four options:
- consume holes 2 and 3 for the practice range expansion,
- use land surrounding the course to reroute holes on the front 9,
- require rezoning land from Residential (PD-5) to Public Land (PL),
- relocate sections of trail to reroute holes,
- remove trees to reroute front holes
The golf community selected a preferred choice from the four presented. The preferred choice was Option A for the following reasons:
- includes a new bathroom for golfers, hikers & bikers
- least expensive option by $700K to $850K
- least impact to the newly installed golf course irrigation system
- impacts the fewest holes on the course (3 vs 6)
- likely to be the easiest, fastest, cheapest and simplest approach
- does not require reshaping and tearing up the existing course
- requires only 2 new greens as opposed to 4 for other options
- ensures the tract of land to be used for hole #2 will not be used for residential homes thus ensuring it will always be available for hikers, bikers, golfers and wildlife
- the impacted portion of the trail can easily be rerouted and enhanced allowing hikers, bikers and golfers to utilize the trail and golf hole simultaneously
The primary criticism of Option A is the removal of an extra 50 to 90 trees, as all options require removal of trees and adjustment of trail sections.
I think the following clarifications will help with discussions related to Phase II, extending the driving range:
- County Council initiated examination of possible golf course rerouting caused by extending the practice range.
- Extending the driving range is a solution to a safety concern associated with range balls hitting cartridges on the course.
- Four options were presented for consideration (A, B, C & D), a do nothing option was not one of the four options.
- All four options presented require using surrounding property that must be rezoned, removal of trees, and trail adjustments.
- The golf course users are the most impacted group since the practice range extension consumes holes 2 and 3.
- Golfers are in near unanimous agreement that Option A is the preferred choice for the reasons above.
- The criticism for selecting Option A over other options centers on the removal of 50 to 90 extra trees.
- Option A saves over $700,000 over any of the other options
As for my 2 cents, if Council is going to address the deferred maintenance items, it makes sense to finally solve the driving range dilemma now, so a do nothing option I believe is not appropriate.
Much like when we put refrigeration in at the Ice Rink in the late 90s, we should have finished the job and put up shading. Instead, that problem was kicked down the road. It still remains and has yet to be addressed. If we are addressing the golf course needs, let’s finish what needs to be done at the golf course and move on.
Regarding the best option? The most affected user community is completely behind Option A for many good reasons. Trail users and bikers are also impacted to a much lesser degree, regardless of the option selected. They can likely provide direction for any associated trail relocation and enhancements. As for tree removal, it is required in all four options. It is a price to pay but can be mitigated by planting trees to replace those removed.