Golf advocates present their case to the Rochester Park Board – Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER – Appeals to conserve Rochester’s four golf courses mixed with personal stories connected to the sport Tuesday during two public hearings relating to potential course changes and an update to the Field Park Soldiers’ master plan.

“I think public golf in Rochester is one of the greatest things about Rochester,” Jeff Fritzinger told Rochester Park Council where about 160 members of the community gathered at the Mayo Civic Center. “That’s one of the reasons I’ve lived here for 34 years.”

He shared experiences related to helping young golfers train, as well as a recent outing at Solgers Field golf course, where he met a sick husband at Mayo Clinic who had been in town for a week after his wife of 32 years had a stroke.

“What he really needed was some rest, and the opportunity to walk four blocks from the hotel to play a round of golf meant a lot to this guy,” said Fitzkinger.

He was followed by a group of 22 other people, many of whom were involved in finding community contact and healthy outlets on the city’s golf courses.

Golf advocates among them also cited system-wide revenue of $1.74 million in 2021 as an indication of the sport’s increasing popularity in a growing city.

Rochester golfer Jeff Meyer said trends show that young golfers are participating in the sport, indicating a need for space for current and future players.

“With increasing popularity, Rochester will be seen as moving backwards rather than forwards in what national and patriotic trends are showing,” he said.

However, not everyone who attended Tuesday’s hearings agreed that the city’s parks were being put to best use by four courses, especially when it came to Soldiers Field Park.

“Given how the city is expected to grow and to be a part of that growth myself, I wonder what voices have been overrepresented and underrepresented in these discussions thus far,” said Nick Miller, who lives in a neighborhood near the soldiers. Field Park.

He said he believes that many people who are attracted to living near downtown Rochester would prefer to open up the green space for other uses, which has been proposed as a long-term plan for the park.

Tuesday’s hearings were part of the Rochester Park Board process designed to hear a variety of opinions regarding golf and the potential uses of property currently designated for the sport.

Rochester City Council has tasked the council, along with Parks and Recreation employees, to consider options for city-operated golf with three possible outcomes:

  • Maintaining four courses sourced $722,500 in added annual revenue.
  • Improvement of the program with the possibility of re-positioning one of the courses for another use.
  • Maintain current courses without additional funding.

City Deputy Mayor Aaron Parrish said maintaining the courses without new funding would neglect the city’s resource.
“We have to be good stewards of these assets, if we’re going to keep one cycle, two cycles, three cycles, four cycles,” he said, pointing to three options that could keep the four cycles running.

While a recent National Golf Association report stated that $722,500 in new annual investment would be needed to maintain and operate the four-course, Parish said city employees believe the amount is closer to $500,000.

He said the money could be generated in three ways: through a 0.58% increase in the city’s property tax levy, a $5.20 increase in fees per round of golf or a combination of increased taxes and fees.

Several golfers who spoke Tuesday said they were willing to participate, whether through increased taxes or fees.

“We’ve been paid too little to play golf for years,” said Mark Reader.

Larry Mortenson, a former park board president and avid golfer, said the proposed increases in seasonal passes over five years would ultimately provide an additional $350,000 for the city’s golf program.

Mortenson was part of a seven-member group of golfers that prepared an assessment of the National Golf Association’s study as part of the presentation Tuesday before the public hearing.

He said the group agreed with the foundation that the daily greens fee is a target, but that the cost of seasonal passes is very low.

A typical adult season ticket costs $795 in Rochester, he said, while a golfer in St. Paul would pay $1,050 for similar access to that city’s courses. He added that a seasonal ticket for the Minneapolis tournaments is $1,600.

In addition to proposing a seasonal fee increase, Mortenson said the group believes some of the improvements suggested by the National Golf Foundation are not necessary.

He said major improvements — repairing the entrance road and parking at Northern Hills Golf Course, repairing the maintenance building in Northern Hills, replacing the Eastwood Golf Club and completing the irrigation system at Solgers Field — would cost the city $2.5 million, instead of the $3.6 million the foundation had proposed spending.

“Some reprioritization needs to be completed among the many (capital improvement projects) within Parks & Rick, so no additional taxpayer dollars are needed to complete these golf projects,” he said, referring to the annual funding the department receives for maintenance and upgrades throughout. garden system.

Paul Weidman, Director of Rochester Parks and Recreation, speaks Tuesday, September 20, 20222, before Rochester Park Council and city residents prior to public hearings at the Mayo Civic Center.

Randy Petersen / Newsletter Post

Park and Recreation Director Paul Weidman said the information collected Tuesday will be combined with input being sought through a series of open events at the city’s four golf courses, beginning on Wednesday. The events are:

  • 10 a.m. to noon on September 21 at Northern Hills Golf Course, 4721 W Circle Drive.
  • 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on September 22 at Eastwood Golf Course, 3505 Eastwood Road SE.
  • 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. September 23 at Soldiers Field Memorial Golf Course, 244 Soldiers Field Drive SE.
  • 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. September 28 at Hadley Creek Golf Course, 2390 Hadley Hills Drive Northeast.

In addition, the city is conducting a scientific survey related to the game of golf, with 500 random Rochester residents to be surveyed in the coming weeks.
A second online survey, to allow any interested residents to participate, will be conducted in October.

Gina Bowman, the city’s director of communications and strategic engagement, said the information collected will be presented to the Park Board of Directors during its November 1 meeting, with the expectation that the board will make a recommendation to be passed on to the Rochester City Council in November. 21, 2022.

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