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City wants to slow Snyder Park golf course process

The process of determining a new use for Snyder Park Golf Course needs to be “slowed considerably” one month after it was closed by the National Trail Parks and Recreation District, Mayor Warren Copeland said.

The Hollandia Botanical Gardens displayed a master plan for reusing the golf course at the Clark County Home and Garden Show earlier this month, despite having never made a formal proposal to the National Trail Parks and Recreation District board.

The garden plans were preliminary, Hollandia board member Paul Parlato said, and were formulated as part of the Greater Springfield Moving Forward parks and green spaces committee.

“It’s nothing like a fait accompli professional design plan,” Parlato said.

The parks and green space committee wasn’t aware Hollandia would be promoting the plans at the Home and Garden show, Copeland said.

The city commission has made no decision on a reuse for the golf course land, Copeland said, and Hollandia Garden is “way ahead of anyone else.”

The group is hoping to work with National Trail in the future, Parlato said, and understands they has no authority over the land that is owned by the city and is managed by the park district.

“All we can do is express our interest and enthusiasm,” Parlato said.

City commissioners discussed the issue at last weekend’s annual retreat. On Monday, a representative from Hollandia reached out to National Trail Director Leann Castillo about their potential interest in the golf course land. Hollandia Board members have spoken about their desire to use the land at recent park district board meetings.

The OSU-Extension Office and Master Gardeners are also working on a proposal on how they would use the land at the former golf course, according to Castillo.

The NTPRD board held a special session on Jan. 25 and voted to close Snyder Park Golf Course in order to balance its budget.

Officials with the Greater Springfield Moving Forward green space committee spoke to the National Trail board last year about the possibility of using the land at the golf course as a wetland bank if it were to close. The area would also include gardens and walking trails for nature education.

The NTPRD board might discuss the future of the golf course land at its meeting and annual retreat at 4 p.m. March 10 at the administration building, 1301 Mitchell Blvd.

City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill said the golf course “should not be cannibalized” until the city knows it’s never going to be used in that manner again.

“It’s a very expensive facility,” O’Neill said.

According to literature released at the home show, the Hollandia board is “excited about this prospect and are eager to do all we can to make it a reality for Springfield.”

Parlato said the group understands a choice has not been made and that it’s an NTPRD and city decision.

In 2007, the Springfield Conservancy District deeded the land for the Hollandia Botanical Garden between Water Street and Sherman Avenue along the Buck Creek Trail for 50 years with no rent. The 11-acre site was expected to cost approximately $7.1 million to develop, but Parlato said the site has been difficult to use for gardening since it opened.

“The topography at Snyder Park is much more favorable for this kind of project,” Parlato said.

The OSU-Extension Gateway Gardens, currently located at the Clark County Agricultural Services Building, 4400 Gateway Blvd., are planned to be moved after the agency as it relocates to the Springview Government Center, 3130 E. Main St. in April.

Director Pam Bennett recently said the office is open to relocating the gardens to Snyder Park, but needs a satellite office for their horticulture team during their growing season.

In the most recent Master Gardeners newsletter, Bennett wrote the organization is still in the discussion phase currently and there are no plans to move the gardens to Snyder Park at this time. They do not plan to partner with any other organization besides NTPRD. The group is expected to discuss the issue at its March meeting.

In May, the park is also set to receive a new playground accessible for disabled children through a donation from the Springfield Rotary Club. The Friends of Snyder Park are also in the process of raising money for a sprayground.

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