Monday, July 20, 2009

guest blog: sligo creek golf course hearing recap

The Planning Board's hearing on what to do with the Sligo Creek Golf Course was pretty intense for those who dared to brave the three-hour affair last Thursday evening (which was also covered by your favorite Silver Spring bloggers.) North Woodside resident Woody Brosnan offers his perspective of what happened. If you've got something you'd like to say, write a guest blog! Send submissions to justupthepike at gmail dot com.

It was a very up and down night at the Montgomery County planning board Thursday night. I guess we probably got some kind of signal when Chairman Royce Hanson and member John Robinson kept the standing-room only crowd waiting for 15 minutes past the scheduled 7 p.m. start time. Hanson indicated his intent was to get through the 39 witnesses as quickly as possible.

I thought on the positive side we had some great testimony from golfers who wanted to keep the course going, including seniors, women, fathers, mothers. I also think there was general agreement that we want a more environmentally-friendly golf course. One man offered to contribute $1,000 to a loan fund to improve the course. The audience frequently broke into applause.

There were two witnesses for a soccer complex and two for disc golf. The remaining witnesses favored a nature center. One or two people said that if there can't be golf that they would like to see some recreation at the site. Only a couple of times did board members ask questions of the witnesses.

After 10 p.m., the board members had their turn and it was clear that Hanson and Robinson wanted no more hearings where they would have to listen to pleas for a golf course. Hanson first dismissed the soccer/sports complex, saying it was too much for that area. (This would have been the worst option from a traffic standpoint.) Then, Robinson, who is only on the board because the Council extended his term, questioned why they should even consider a golf course option since they were prohibited from operating a golf course by the lease agreement with the Revenue Authority.

Mary Bradford, the parks staff director, explained that they wanted to "marker" in case there was a decision to keep the course open by the Council. So the staff was willing to do the work. Hanson wound up directing the staff to consider some kind of option for the course that would include natural areas with recreation. They did not specify what recreation but I think it was something less than lighted soccer or ball fields.

Golfers will now appeal directly to the County Council to keep the course open.

If you've got something you'd like to say, write a guest blog! Send submissions to justupthepike at gmail dot com. All statements published are those of the writers and theirs alone.

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