The Springfield News-Sun is committed to coverage of the National Trail Parks and Recreation District, including recent stories on the new Champion City Kings baseball franchise and changes to the Splash Zone Aquatic Center fee structure.
The National Trail Parks and Recreation District voted to close 93-year-old Snyder Park Golf Course at a special meeting Saturday morning in order to balance its 2014 budget.
The closing of the Snyder Park Golf Course will save the district an estimated $357,000 this year.
“My heart is on the floor,” said board member Corey Holliday. “I feel awful thinking about it. I’ve lost a lot of sleep over the last few weeks.”
Board members voted 5-2 in favor of closing Snyder Park Golf Course. Maureen Massaro, Shawn Jackson, Sabrina Tackett, Jim Kincaid and Holliday voted to close the Snyder Park course, while members Jack Simonton and Mike Calabrese voted against the motion.
The district’s golf operation has lost approximately $1.08 million over the last three years.
This year, the district faces an estimated $356,000 shortfall. The district estimated it would spend approximately $1.07 million to operate both Reid Park Golf Courses this year.
If the district were to close Reid South and keep Snyder Park Golf Course open, it would cost approximately $1.26 million to run two golf courses in separate locations.
Kincaid said that regardless of which course or courses were to close, the district’s golf operation will still struggle to break even this summer, based on his projections.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to figure out that deficit that’s going to occur,” Kincaid said. “There’s still going to be a deficit.”
NTPRD director Leann Castillo said in the coming weeks the city’s finance department will update the district’s budget based on the recent decision to close Snyder Park.
“We’ll have a better financial picture at that time,” Castillo said.
She again recommended closing Snyder Park Golf Course on Saturday morning, especially considering the saturation of the market in Clark County. There are currently 11 golf courses in the county with 207 holes.
“I’m only considering what we are responsible for doing,” Castillo said. “We’re looking strictly at our budget.”
Holliday said he made the decision with his head and not his heart. He said he’s disappointed another amenity was taken from the southwest side of the city, especially young African-Americans who may be interested in learning golf, but believed closing Snyder Park Golf Course was the best financial decision.
Holliday also told the large crowd, which included local golfers and board members of the Hollandia Botanical Garden who hope to move to the golf course, the decision was made solely on the district’s financial situation.
“No decision has been made about anything else,” Holliday said.
The course was established in 1920, and the first round was played there on July 4, 1921.
Calabrese believes the district should preserve one of the city’s landmarks. He also said the decision to close Snyder Park will take away another amenity from the city’s southwest side.
“From my perspective, if we close that golf course we may as well take Park Road right over to Ferncliff Cemetery because that’s what it’s going to look like during the week,” Calabrese said.
Several golfers spoke either for or against closing Snyder Park Golf Course, as well residents looking to re-utilize the course as a botanical garden.
Springfield resident Terry Groeber, a former NTPRD board member, told the board Snyder Park should be given another summer. He believes the board should close Reid Park South and, if financial numbers aren’t met, make the decision to close Snyder Park Golf Course next fall.
“I think it ought to be given a chance,” Groeber said. “I think to close Snyder Park right now would be a travesty.”
Resident Jim Oliver
asked board members to think with their head and not with their heart. He said that, if NTPRD has to close a golf course, members should do what makes the most financial sense.
“The numbers don’t lie,” Oliver said.
Resident Gene Clifton said if the decision isn’t made to close Snyder Park Golf Course, the city will “forever lose that big opportunity” to move the Master Gardener’s Gateway Gardens to Snyder Park. They are planning to move from the former location at the Clark County Agricultural Services Building, 4400 Gateway Blvd., to new offices at the Springview Government Center, 3130 E. Main St., but are open to moving to Snyder Park, if the course became available.
“If they end up at (Springview), this deal is dead,” Clifton said.
Local golfer Bill Beach, an outspoken advocate of keeping Snyder Park Golf Course open, was disappointed by the decision.
He said he’ll still support the city-owned courses and the NTPRD board.
“At least we have closure now and know which direction we’re headed,” Beach said.