What to do with 62 acres of brownfields in South Buffalo?
Go green – as in lush fairways and putting greens.
That’s a possibility in a feasibility study released Tuesday. The nine-hole golf course would be a swap for the South Parks links – which would be used for an arboretum, as was the vision of landscape architect Federick law Olmsted back in 1894.
The report concluded that a new nine-hole course is feasible, but 18 holes is not. The site would include features that don’t exist at the nearby nine-hole course at South Park, such as a clubhouse that would also be a community center for family-oriented programming all year, a driving range, a pitch-and-putt area and even a dog park. It could even incorporate an Irish theme, given its proximity to South Buffalo, consultants said.
“People are willing to pay a little bit more for something a little different,” said Mark Mistretta, a principal with Wendel, one of several consultants who produced the study.
Relocating the nine-hole course in South Park to a landfill just to the north would achieve two objectives: creation of a better golf course than the existing one, as well as the restoration of Olmsted’s vision for the arboretum.
The study estimates that the golf course would cost $10 million and the arboretum $2.3 million. The majority of the proposed golf course site is owned by Steelfields Ltd., while another parcel that could be used for the course is owned by another private owner, and that land would need to be secured for public use in order for the golf course to move forward. The brownfield area in South Buffalo is getting ready for some major changes, including the arrival of two high-tech companies to RiverBend, near the proposed golf course site, and having enhanced recreation in the area is seen as a way to market available land to other companies, said David A. Stebbins, vice president of the Buffalo Urban Development Corp., which commissioned the study.
The study looked at the physical site and options for where to locate the course, the market for golf courses, the ecology of the area and included public meetings and 10,000 surveys sent to golfers and others, 450 of which were returned.
While there isn’t an appetite locally for a lot of new golf holes, replacing nine holes with another nine holes would work, Mistretta said.
But for it to happen, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the city will have to weigh in.
“This is something the conservancy is extremely interested in because this is the only way we can restore the South Park landscape to its original design,” said Thomas Herrera-Mishler, conservancy president and CEO.
A presentation on the proposed golf course and arboretum will be made to the conservancy board.
The golf course won’t be removed from South Park unless there is an equal or better alternative, such as the one presented in the Wendel report, Herrera-Mishler said.
“This would be superior to the South Park golf course in every way imaginable,” he said.
There are some ownership issues that must be worked out, however.
The conservancy retains the revenue at the South Park golf course for its operations, but it’s unclear how the revenue would be handled at a new course, which would not be in an Olmsted-designed park.