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Answer Man: Soldiers Field Park and golf course are not in sights for development

Rumors about converting downtown green space to a housing project or commercial development appear to be speculation that has gone off course amid municipal golf discussions.

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Answer Man, 

Comments on a recent Facebook post regarding the recent survey about Rochester’s golf courses imply the city is considering selling a portion of Soldiers Field Golf Course to Destination Medical Center developers for housing or business use. Is that true? I hope not. We need more housing, but I’d hate to see the golf course and parkland disappear as a result. 

— Worried golfer

Golfer,

It appears someone has strayed a bit too far off the fairway and deciding to make up their own rules as they go along.

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I asked Post Bulletin’s local government reporter about this, since he’s sat through many of the public discussions related to golf and wrote the article about the survey. He said he’s never heard anyone of authority suggest that the city would sell a portion of Soldiers Field Park, which includes the golf course.

However, he told me he had heard the same rumor circulate among people who attended some of the recent Park Board meetings, so he started asking questions.

He was told the city values the green space too much to consider selling it, even if the golf course ends up being scaled back some time in the next decade.

The rumor likely started with a public discussion of options related to the city’s other public courses. Each was built in an area that includes nearby residential neighborhoods. As a result, when the Rochester City Council asked Parks and Recreation staff to look at options for the future of the city’s golf program, the potential to convert portions of the Northern Hills, Eastwood or Hadley Creek courses was mentioned.

At the same time, it was repeatedly said that no such plan was in place for Soldiers Field, which would be maintained as city parkland — with or without an 18-hole golf course.

Options for the Soldiers Field Golf Course, if it’s ever scaled back, would include developing an arboretum or other public green space. One preliminary proposal even suggested building a new city-owned ballpark at the site.

None of that its likely to happen any time soon, if ever, since it appears the 18 holes of golf are likely to remain for at least the next 10 years.

While some adjustments might be needed to make way for a new water park, public sentiment and support from public officials point to keeping a full course at the south end of the city park.

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To put another hole in the housing theory, it’s important to point out that the golf course is not in the DMC district, which means the city cannot spend DMC funds south of the current fence, and developers wouldn’t be able to benefit from DMC incentives for work in that area, at least without the boundary being moved.

I’m sure this news won’t stop some folks from continuing to slice off the tee with speculation that the golf course will be paved over, but I’m hoping they’ll at least let the rest of us play through as they search for their imaginary balls in the rough.

Send questions to Answer Man at answerman@postbulletin.com .

Related Topics: ANSWER MANROCHESTERGOLFGOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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