left photo Patrick Robinson - right photo Ty Swenson
Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent for Seattle Parks at left announced the cancellation of the West Seattle Golf Course Driving Range project. Bob Chamberlain, speaking at the West Seattle Rotary Club luncheon on behalf of the West Seattle Golf Course Men's Club has been vocal in his opposition to the plan as it developed.

UPDATE: West Seattle Golf Course Driving Range cancelled

Funds left over will be used for WS maintenance and plans in place for Jackson and Jefferson

Christopher Williams, Seattle Parks Department Director of Operations said today that the plans for the Driving Range at the West Seattle golf course have been cancelled.

"We've come to the decision that we're not going to move forward with the West Seattle Driving Range," said Williams."The reason we're not moving forward with the driving range is that based on feedback we heard in the community discussions (...) moving forward would have meant a radical alteration of the existing golf course design. That course is viewed as an historic golf course, in terms of its design and changes made to the 9th hole we felt would have been significant after we heard from the community. There's also that the scope of the driving range project exceeds the available budget."

Williams pointed out that the original concept, as presented in the Golf Master Plan was on the plateau up near 35th Ave. s.w.

"When we got in there and looked at the soil conditions that wasn't a sustainable location. It forced us to look at other nearby areas. That's how we landed on the 9th hole and that area. We tried to make it work and it didn't work and we could have shoehorned it in but we think there would have been some unhappy community members and we think we can come to a better use for the $579,000 left over."

Also attending the meeting were David Kipnis of the Camp Long Advisory Council, West Seattle Golf Course Men's Club (WSGCMC) Secretary Patrick DiStefano, WSGCMC VP Michael Prittie, Seattle Parks Deputy Director Eric Friedli.

Michael Prittie, 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.”

The plan now is to go back out to a public discussion on the Golf Master Plan.
But in the short term the focus will shift to Jackson Park and Jefferson Park golf courses but may go to address some maintenance issues at West Seattle.

The money not spent "will initially be deployed to the other master plan projects at Jackson and Jefferson. The planning money has already been borrowed (...) We will look at them in detail and with the public on exactly what we plan to do with West Seattle in the year 2012-13. Some of the borrowing for that will take place in subsequent years. We will work with the Golf Club and Camp Long as we develop those projects."

Wilkinson acknowledged that the West Seattle course "sure needs a clubhouse" but that the remaining funds were insufficient to address that problem.

Speaking at the West Seattle Rotary Club luncheon on Tuesday WSGMC President Bob Chamberlain said, "I hope that they have decided to move ahead with either the driving range at Jackson or to rebuild the clubhouse and expand the driving range at Jefferson as the first part of this project (golf master plan.) I hope they do not abandon the golf master plan, I hope that they understand that the Men’s Club of West Seattle is 100 percent in favor of the overall master plan to improve golf in the City of Seattle."

The WSGMC has been very vocal on the topic, offering both their creative criticism of the plans advanced and their wish that the West Seattle Golf Course remain unchanged. The Parks Department had some 80 written letters from people in the community expressing their opinion on the project, with the negative comments overwhelmingly in the majority.

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.

In an email response Garrett Farrell Project Manager explained the benefits of what has taken place in the process.

"There will be no discarding of the work at West Seattle. The time and analysis provides solid information that will inform other range projects in the master plan, ( that would most likely be accelerated if this is passed on) and we have very detailed info that will assist in future projects at west Seattle.

I also see considerable value retained in the dynamic we have established with the community. All of the effort to come up the learning curve positions us as a stronger owner who can quickly make informed decisions and move through planning and pre design."

Seattle Parks Director of Golf Operations Paul Wilkinson indicated that going forward, it would be important to look for improvements that would enhance revenue. He suggested that at some point it might even mean installing a mini-golf course on the West Seattle property since for a relatively low cost a high revenue stream would be generated.

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