What if the golf course could be transformed into a haven for nature?
I would propose the City buy the lands associated with the golf courses and clubhouse facilities to create an improved wetland, chain of ponds and nature trail park.
Hire Wetherington Tractor Service to design an excavation plan that would create a chain of ponds and small lakes where once there were fairways and greens; the goal being to create a waterway chain joined with canals such that they could become a kayak or canoe friendly waterway. The design should also create nature trails tied to the Walden Lake boat ramp. It would become a Parks Department asset and available to the citizens as such.
Where once property values were elevated due to fairway frontage, the result would be to change them to improved wetland and nature trail front homes. There would never again be a question as to it being properly maintained if a future golf course owner failed.
To reduce cost, any marketable excavate could be sold with access from the northwest near the railroad tracks. Compared to the decade or more of lost value and waste already endured, creating such a city nature trail and waterway park should be considered. If it were accomplished and designed to attach it to the old clubhouse areas, it is reasonable to assume that land might see increased potential enough to accomplish a resale to a new owner for renovation and renewed chance at viable future use.
Our city has a proven ability to manage parks. But we can’t be expected to fix an essentially private problem unless there is something in it for the city as a whole. This solution eliminates the worry that the land will be developed into further homes, townhomes or apartment complexes. Sadly, it eliminates golf returning to Walden Lake. But it gains something for the city, removes uncertainty of future upkeep and turns what were golf-front homes into the next-best value of improved wetland or nature trail front homes.
Ed Verner is a co-owner of the Plant City Observer.