BY JODY BENSON
I love the golf course. No, I don’t golf, but that expanse of green—glorious even in drought as we pour all our gray-water allotment onto it—is just plain restful to look at during these past 22 years of drought. I like walking the perimeter trail, too, and commuting on the Walnut Canyon trail over the bridges to Eastern Area. It’s not dangerous. You don’t need to worry about getting eaten by a bear or hit with a golf ball—I rarely see many golfers and even fewer bears.
Yup. I love that golf course. I remember when we were kids, back when North Mesa was Horse Mesa, and Arnie Urizar and I would ride double on my pony Possum to race across the green, rock-free expanse. One time, the grounds keeper caught us and yelled threats that were terrifying even though that was an era when nobody used profanities in mixed company. Apparently, he recognized Arnie, the daughter of an avid golfer, because when we got home, dad Manuel, ensured she and I understood we were never ever to ride on the golf course again. Ever. So alas, never again did we ride that beautiful space making divots on the greens clipped with fingernail scissors. Even back in those days, nobody got hit with a golf ball.
Which begs the question. Why now? Just because the County improved Diamond Drive to four lanes with a bike path that cuts off some grassy yardage? Even with the widened Diamond, why do we need to expand the golf course into the forest with tall, live trees sustained by the community’s gray-water runoff from golf-course soil? Why do 5.5 acres need to be cut back and grassed when, according to the presentation to the July 14 Parks and Rec Board (we paid the consultant firm to help us make a data-driven decision), the consultant recommended Option D that expanded the golf course by only 1.4 acres, and mostly into the already-heavily impacted maintenance yard. Option D meets six of the seven criteria: the golf course is a “Point of Pride” in the community; the space remains sustainable; the upgrades meet the safety standards; upgrades preserve yardage; there are adequate “practice opportunities;” and the area continues to be both a meeting space and an open space.
Option A? The one the Board chose? As the most destructive of open space, it meets only three of the seven Options: point of pride, safety (although where’s the data on how many people or cars are injured by golf balls?), and practice opportunities. Minus four, it costs a whole lot more.
I know times change. Little girls don’t ride bareback double on a pony racing across our golf course. Facial recognition is universal and even more terrifying than being identified by a friend of parents. Life is global, not personal, and in most communities, people forget we can have spaces other than human hegemony expanded into everywhere. Here in Los Alamos? I think we value our access to open spaces, areas that offer a true “meeting space” with encounters that include both human friends and those of multiple species. We can have upgrades to the golf course spirit trees and canyon trails. I advocate for Option D, and hope the County will, too.