Germantown Country Club to close
Memphis Commercial Appeal
As the city of Germantown explores whether to purchase the Germantown Country Club after it closes later this month, at least one advisory panel has shown strong support for the idea.
At an informal Saturday morning meeting, almost all members of the parks and recreation master plan steering committee said they thought it would be a good idea for the city to try to acquire the almost 180 acres of land bordered by Kimbrough Road and Farmington and Wolf River boulevards. However, they were not of one mind about the best way to use the land.
Germantown Parks Director Pam Beasley said the committee, which had spent months working on the parks master plan that was adopted by the board of mayor and aldermen last year, was reconvened specifically to examine the feasibility of the city purchasing the golf course.
Beasley said the committee — separate from the city’s standing parks and recreation committee — would also see if the massive property fit into the goals and needs identified in the master plan.
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When the plan had been drafted, she said the group had struggled to identify land within the city that could be made into parks in the future and did not know that the golf club land would be a potential option for the city.
“We do need to acquire additional land so our park system could expand,” Beasley said.
After a brief review of the master plan, committee members went around the room with neon-colored stickers, placing them next to ideas and concepts they supported on large posters provided by Lose and Associates, a consultant that had helped write the master plan.
Only one commissioner did not put their sticker in the “yes” box on the poster asking whether purchasing the property for some public use was a good idea. Another board presented various uses–from disc golf to dog park to equestrian facilities–for a potential public space. Open space, trails and greenways, multi-purpose sports fields and outdoor dining and socializing areas received the most sticker votes.
Commissioners also discussed four potential “scenarios” for the golf club property–although city officials and representatives of Lose and Associates reminded commissioners and public attendees that they were not making a plan for the property, merely looking at which options had support or met goals set out in the parks master plan.
Nine commissioners supported the “passive park” option, which would primarily provide open green space for wildlife with the possibility of a nature center, dog park or picnic areas on a small portion of the property.
Six supported the idea of an “active park,” which could feature sports fields, tennis courts, walking trails and playground areas, while five put stickers on the “hybrid development” board, which was described as 90 to 100 acres of open space, with the rest of the property developed into residential or commercial space (which would require a zoning change–something the mayor has said he adamantly opposes).
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Only two people put stickers on the “passive park and golf operation” board, which presented the idea of keeping nine holes of golf as a public course and using the rest of the property as open park space.
Saturday’s meeting did not include a discussion of the cost of purchasing the property. However, several members of the committee pointed out that purchasing more park space would mean higher maintenance costs for the city.
Public comment was not allowed at Saturday’s meeting, but Beasley said 176 people submitted comments online about whether or not the city should purchase the property. Nine people said the city should not purchase the property and 11 offered ambiguous statements such as “good luck,” but did not indicate whether they thought the city should or should not purchase the course.
The remaining 156 people said they supported the city purchasing the golf course, according to Beasley.
A summary of Saturday’s discussion will be made public and will contribute to future discussions by the city’s standing parks and recreation committee about whether the city should purchase the golf club. That committee will make a recomendation to the board of mayor and aldermen, which will make a final decision.
Germantown Country Club owners announced the club’s closing for financial reasons in a letter to members in early January, prompting city officials, private developers and a group of club members to consider purchasing it for various uses.
Under current zoning restrictions, the property could be developed into single family homes on large lots. It could also remain as a golf course under new ownership or be transformed into a park. A large swath of the property is in a floodplain, according to the Federal Emergency Management Association, complicating the possibility of future development.
Germantown Country Club will close Feb. 28.
Corinne Kennedy covers Germantown for the Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at Corinne.Kennedy@CommercialAppeal.com or on Twitter @CorinneSKennedy
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