WAR MEMORIAL GOLF COURSE: Should it be preserved or "repurposed"?

 

WAR MEMORIAL GOLF COURSE: Should it be preserved or “repurposed”?

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An article in the Seattle Times mirrors an ongoing controversy in Little Rock — what to do with municipal golf courses.

The Little Rock Board of Directors has decided to close two of four city-supported golf courses, but nobody has said yet just which ones. Hindman and War Memorial appear to be in the crosshairs. The  First Tee course, established by a gift from a billionaire and once expected to be supported by charity, seems most likely to survive as a city-subsidized course.

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Mayor Frank Scott Jr. prefers to say two courses are to be “re-purposed” rather than closed.

The decision has been reached in part because parks are about the only major agency of city government where a cash-strapped City Hall has a ready ability to make several dozen job cuts. The decision is also based on a study that emphasized that the courses take in less revenue than they cost to operate. It is an analysis that few city park operations could withstand — swimming pools, gyms, picnic areas, playgrounds. But golf courses occupy far more land.

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In Little Rock, there’s been talk of enhancing youth sports facilities, walking trails and picnic areas in place of golf courses. These ideas (though not a private bar and driving range touted by some) are attractive. But none comes without cost.

Seattle is also trying to decide whether there’s a better way to use the more than 500 acres their four city golf courses occupy. Again the cost is a factor. Again there’s been small attention to the golfers themselves. In Seattle, as in Little Rock, the public courses are enjoyed by a diverse population. That is, the users are not as rich and white as the golfers who use expensive private courses. Seattle is also a good deal more prosperous than Little Rock. It’s interesting reading.