Pretty much everyone seems to be in agreement that turning an unused former landfill in southern Dallas into something is a good idea, and that, since the city will be paying to clean up the land up anyway, and because there aren't exactly hordes of developers itching to get get dirt flying on a former landfill in southern Dallas, that that something may as well be a golf course. As Joe noted on Friday, they're just skeptical that a fancy golf course is somehow going to transform southern Dallas.
The other thing that's fueling skepticism is the complete lack of specificity about how the course will operate. The press conference on Friday was larded with rhetoric about how the Trinity Forest Golf Course would be a humongous economic boost to southern Dallas and turn the city into major golfing destination, but it was light on details. City staff provided a few at the council's Economic Development Committee meeting this morning.
We learned that the city is roughly 100 percent certain it will land the Byron Nelson Champioship, seeing as City Manager Ryan Evans' presentation indicates that securing the tournament is a prerequisite for moving forward with the course. We also learned that the city will continue to own the land on which the course sits, which will be leased by the nonprofit formed to run the course for $10,000 per year.
As for who will get to play there, we're still not quite sure.
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Mayor Mike Rawlings and city officials have made it clear that the course will be membership-based, but the implication all along has been that it will be semi-private. In golfing parlance, that typically means that non-members can call and set up a tee time. But then Rawlings told the Morning News that public access to the course will be "limited," which implies that may not be the case.
Becky Mayad, who's handling public relations for the course, directed us to the briefing materials for today's committee meeting. Those say that the nonprofit will "provide for and insure that not less than 25 percent of annual rounds of golf will be available to charitable tournaments and events, educational and youth programming, and/or coordinated public play." She added that the terms will be fleshed out in the lease agreement.
Some fuzziness is understandable given that the project is in its early stages. But with the City Council set to decide Wednesday whether to give the project the go-ahead, and with actual work expected to start next spring, things are far enough along for the city, which is, after all, committing $12 million in taxpayer money to the project in return for less than I pay in rent for a two-bedroom apartment, to say for sure whether the average Dallas golfer will be able to just play a round.
At least we know the needy children at The First Tee, an organization that introduces kids to golf, will be taken care of, as they so often seem to be when the city embarks on an expensive, nonessential project. In the case of the neighboring Texas Horse Park it was needy and disabled children. It's remarkable how closely the city's interests always line up with those of the children.