A public hearing on the Salt Lake City budget Tuesday night drew a crowd of people concerned about the possible closure of a golf course on the city’s west side. City officials say the golf program is no longer sustainable.
Golf enthusiasts like Kelsey Chugg told stories of how the 18-hole golf course has enhanced the Rose Park community. A recent report from the National Golf Foundation found the city’s 8-course system can no longer support itself without public funding. The report suggests a number of options, including pairing back the Rose Park Course into a smaller “executive course”.
“A lot of junior golfers can’t afford, and families in general can’t afford a country club membership,” Chugg says. “So the city courses are their only option. And I was one of them and I was lucky enough to come up through and get a college scholarship. So I just want you to think about all the junior golfers who have that opportunity now and what you could be taking from them.”
Quentin Sasser maintains the course at Wingpointe and runs the junior golf program at Nibley Park. He says the city can save money by better managing the courses---and they can start with using secondary water instead of culinary water to feed the lawns.
“I don’t want to say it’s too late,” Sasser says. “But it is going to cost something to make those changes. Where, if they would have made those changes 15 years ago, the cost would have been less.”
District 1 Councilman James Rogers says using secondary water will save the course about $200,000 annually. Rogers says all of the options are on the table, but he personally doesn’t want to partially close the course.
“That’s not what the constituents want,” Rogers says. “That’s not what the neighbors want. That’s our backyard. And when you come into someone’s backyard and you start messing with it, that’s when they get upset.”
In his 2014-2015 budget proposal Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker called on the city council to address the deficit the city’s golf courses are facing
The council will continue discussions about the issue at its next meeting.