We’re at Seattle Parks headquarters downtown, where acting superintendent Christopher Williams (photo right) has just told West Seattle Golf Club and Camp Long Advisory Council leaders the decision on whether the controversy-beset West Seattle Golf Course driving range will proceed: It will NOT.
Williams says public concern is a major factor – as is the fact what they would have to do would exceed the available budget. The money left over in the design process, $500,000, will initially be applied to Golf Master Plan projects at Jackson and Jefferson courses, according to Parks leaders. (ADDED WEDNESDAY: Parks says $255,000 was spent on design/engineering for the WS driving range before this decision.) And the Jackson driving range will likely now move forward this year instead of the later timetable. As for future West Seattle projects – they remain on the current timetable for now, though it was acknowledged that plans have room to change. What about a new clubhouse for West Seattle? Wilkinson agreed, “We sure need a clubhouse there.”
WSGC is represented at the meeting by Patrick DiStefano and Mike Prittie (photo left); Parks reps also include deputy superintendent Eric Friedli and the citywide golf manager Paul Wilkinson. Camp Long Advisory Council reps Mary Quackenbush and David Kipnis are here too. WSGC’s president Bob Chamberlain was speaking to the Rotary Club of West Seattle just this past hour. (photo and notes added)
Chamberlain had reiterated to the Rotary that once it became clear the driving range would alter part of the golf course itself, the 700-member club was officially opposed, and that’s the viewpoint he had to represent.
(back to original report on announcement meeting) As DiStefano put it, there was widespread support for a driving range – but not for one that would change the existing golf course itself. “This really makes the most sense, looking for the overall … way to move the West Seattle Golf Course forward, toward something that will generate some revenue toward future projects,” he said, while expressing concern that the money originally budgeted for this “will never come back.”
More to come – we’ll add a few more toplines from the briefing, as well as from the WSGC president’s speech to Rotary that preceded it; the official Parks news release about this should be out momentarily, too. Side note: The department says it can’t recall the last time a project was completely canceled this far into the design/review/community-meeting process. “We listened,” Williams noted.
ADDED 2:56 PM: The official news release is now out:
Seattle Parks and Recreation Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams today announced his decision not to proceed with the construction of a driving range at the West Seattle Golf Course, after siting difficulties and public concerns surfaced.
The driving range, the first project to be developed under the 2009 Golf Master Plan, began the planning and design phase in mid-2010. The original plan was to place the range west of the clubhouse along 35th Ave. SW. Engineering studies revealed problems with soil conditions at the site, so Parks then attempted to locate it closer to the clubhouse at the fairway for hole #9.
This option would make it necessary to reconfigure the hole and several pathways, which led to opposition from course users. The design team tried to address users’ concerns through three public meetings and additional analysis. After reviewing the design issues, the costs of the design process, the funding for the project, and the input received through the public involvement process, Williams decided not to go ahead with the project.
“It turns out this project, as it can be physically fitted into the course, is not consistent with the course’s historic design,” Williams said “We do not want to go forward with a facility that does not meet golfers’ needs, but we are pleased to be able to take the rest of the budget and apply it to another upcoming Golf Master Plan project.”
Michael Prittie, vice president of the West Seattle Golf Club, said “The club is very happy with this decision. We look forward to working with Parks on the rest of the Golf Master Plan, particularly on projects that will improve the West Seattle Golf Course.”
David Kipnis of the Camp Long Advisory Council added, “We appreciate Parks’ willingness to incorporate public opinion in decision-making, and hope this decision will be a catalyst for the golf community, Camp Long, and the general public to work together on future projects.”
This decision enables Parks to take the approximately $579,000 remaining in the $834,000 project planning budget, which comes from 2010 General Obligation Bonds, and redirect it to another priority revenue-generating capital project identified in the Golf Master Plan. Parks will also report on the decision to the City Council Parks and Seattle Center Committee at an upcoming meeting.