Rose Park residents upset over proposed golf course closure

Posted at 9:32 PM, Jul 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-30 23:32:20-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Golfers and residents in Rose Park are angry about Mayor Ralph Becker's decision to close a popular course in their neighborhood. Could other city owned golf courses be in trouble too? The answer is yes.

Wednesday night, golfers and residents had an emotionally charged message for the mayor.

"It's really sad and downright asinine for them to think about closing a facility of this nature, of this quality, with this open space," said Melvin Roberts, who has been golfing the public courses in Rose Park for 50 years. He's angry at the Salt Lake City Council.

"I don't like it," Roberts said. "If these politicians don't get their act together and quit thinking me, mine and all for me."

He's not alone.

"I don't feel happy about it at all," resident Gayle Henderson said.

Rose Park's Jordan River Par 3 is closing, and the 18-hole golf course next door in also in jeopardy.

"It would be a travesty for this community. It's one of the few amenities that we have out here in Rose Park," resident Joe Tonumaipea said.

"It's just basic supply and demand over the years," said David Everitt, the Mayor's Chief of Staff of Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City says it has no choice; the public golf courses are costing them money. About a $1.3 million deficit.

"The supply has remained the same and the demand has not gone up, in fact, it's gone down and so the cost of maintaining golf courses, whether it's through irrigation or through all the maintenance work that needs to be done, those costs continue to go up," Everitt said.

Some said mismanagement is to blame.

"They can do a better job at managing the resources there, managing the expense side of the ledger," Tonumaipea said.

Others wonder: Why Rose Park? Why aren't any of the other courses across the Salt Lake Valley being targeted, some ask. One golfer cites a recent report from a consultant hired by the city.

"It said golf courses in minority areas would never be financially stable or profitable, which is, I think is just another way of saying those people shouldn't have golf courses or those people shouldn't play golf," Golfer Mike Zumwalt said.

While the council has vowed to keep the Jordan River Par 3 open space, some fear it's only a matter of time before a developer moves in.

"The biggest fear absolutely would be development, multi-family homes would be developed here," said Blake Perez with the Rose Park Community Council.

Golfers and residents plan on showing up at the next city council meeting on August 28 to demand the courses stay open. The Salt Lake City Council plans to develop a sustainable business plan in February of next year.