Golf Course or Park? City Council set to determine the fate of the Municipal Golf Course

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - For weeks, there has been uncertainty about the future of the Municipal Golf Course next door to John Hunt Park.

Thursday night, the city unveiled two plans - one that would reopen the course after a major facelift, and another that would divide the property into a mixed-use park.

“These two options are mutually exclusive," says John Hamilton, Huntsville's City Administrator.

Choice 1: Reopen the Course

Option one would reopen the course, but would require the City of Huntsville to spend more than half a million dollars to get to the level consultant Raven Golf deems appropriate.

“This is not in any way a redesign of the course, in any way what you would think of rebuilding the course itself, this is renovating the existing course," says Hamilton.

That includes a proposed $1.5 million clubhouse.

The consultants believe with the right investments, the course could succeed.

“With appropriate management, with appropriate renovations, with maintaining the course at the quality we would all expect it to be, those numbers would go in another direction," says Hamilton.

Choice 2: Redevelop the course into a mixed-use park 

Option two would be to replace the course with a mixed use park that consists of a golf driving range, cross country running track, walking trails, a mountain bike training facility, dog park and disc golf course.

“There’s almost 6 miles worth of existing cart paths, so you have the ability to have a variety of different walking trails if you use the existing cart paths," says Hamilton.

Hamilton says the price tag would be about half of what the golf course would cost, but as Councilman Kling pointed out, wouldn't generate any direct revenue.

Hamilton replied, while the mixed use park wouldn't have any direct revenue like the course, tourist dollars would give a big boost.

“To fully answer your question, there would have to be estimates of lodging taxes that would be collected and sales taxes that would be collected," he says.

A Chamber Divided

The council chamber, much like the community, found itself divided Thursday night.

"I think this is a unique opportunity to have a venue that can host national championships as well as regional championships," says David Cain, the head coach of UAH's Cross Country team.

Supporters of a mixed use park lined up on the right of the council chamber. Golf lovers formed a line on the left of the room.

"It’s a great course just needs work and I think it’s a disgrace a city the size of Huntsville doesn’t have a Municipal course," says Rick Jones, a longtime Becky Peirce Golfer.

The final decision now rests with the City Council on the future of the municipal golf course and they hope to have it all wrapped up by the end of the month.

Hamilton stressed to the council, both proposals have the potential for success, so now it's up to those council members to decide which better fits the needs of the Huntsville community.