Two local horticulture organizations are interested in moving their gardens to Snyder Park if the golf course there were closed because of financial issues.
Officials with both the Master Gardeners and Hollandia Botanical Gardens told the Springfield News-Sun that if the golf course were closed, they would have interest in using the green space for nature education.
The National Trail Parks and Recreation Board is set to discuss the future of its golf courses this week. The board meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the administration office, 1301 Mitchell Blvd. It was moved from Monday because of the Veterans Day holiday.
Since 2004, the city has spent $2 million on golf operation subsidies and might need to pay another $100,000 subsidy this year to help cover a $400,000 shortfall for golf.
Castillo said no decisions will be made on golf operations until after the city budget meetings later this month. The final decision may not come until December.
“Even if our board decides to go one way, once we find out what our budget is going to be, that could totally change what we have to do,” Castillo said.
“If it came down to where we have to make cuts, we may have to make some tough decisions to make.”
Pam Bennett, OSU Extension director, said the Gateway Gardens currently at the Clark County Agricultural Services Building, 4400 Gateway Blvd., are planned to be moved to new offices at the Springview Government Center, 3130 E. Main St. However, if the decision is made to close the golf courses, Bennett said she’d be open to possibly relocating the gardens to Snyder Park.
“The caveat for us is that we would need an office space and an education center or a classroom center at that site as well as where we’re going to be at Springview,” Bennett said. “I’d be open to exploring any ideas.”
Bennett said they’d need five acres for the gardens, which is similar to what they would have at Springview.
The biggest issue for the Master Gardeners, Bennett said, is the timetable. They’re in the initial stages of discussing how to renovate the new gardens behind Springview.
“The window of opportunity is closing,” Bennett said. “We would need a decision soon.”
Hollandia Botanical Garden board member Paul Parlato believes the golf course would be an “ideal place” for growing plants and flowers. It’s also a central location in Springfield with plenty of parking and facilities. If available, the Hollandia Gardens would be interested in about 14 acres.
“It’s familiar to people, and it’s easy to reach,” Parlato said. “It’s a conducive area to growing things, whether it’s experimental gardens or the Hollandia display gardens.”
In 2007, the Springfield Conservancy District deeded the land between Water Street and Sherman Avenue along the Buck Creek Trail for 50 years with no rent for the Hollandia Botanical Garden.
“We’re very grateful,” Parlato said.
However, the site, Parlato said, has been difficult to use for gardening since it opened. One portion of the garden is located on top of an old neighborhood and still has foundations located in the soil. A piece of the site along Sherman Avenue is near an industrial site that might be cleaned up to be used as an educational center. The bike trail also runs through the gardens.
“It makes it very difficult to do any demonstration plots, which we’ve labored to do,” Parlato said.
Hollandia officials would also like to work in conjunction with NTPRD. Parlato said the Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton used a similar model in recent years.
“It’s something that works,” Parlato said.
Officials with the Greater Springfield Moving Forward green space committee spoke to the NTPRD board last month about the possibilities for the golf course, if it were to close.
Tom Loftis, a member of the committee, told the NTPRD board about the possibility of using the land at the golf course as a wetland bank, which would also include gardens and walking trails used for nature education.
“We feel it’s a viable option as an alternative use for that land,” Loftis said. “It would conform with the deed restrictions and would provide an economically-sustainable alternate use for that site.”
Loftis said the committee has met with most of the city and county commissioners to make them aware of the possibilities for the golf course.
“We wanted to make sure they were aware of it,” Loftis said. “Whatever decision they make, we’re going to have to roll with it and work with them.”
In May, the park is also set to receive a new handicap-accessible playground through a donation from the Springfield Rotary Club. The Friends of Snyder Park are also in the process of raising money for a sprayground.
Castillo said the wetland proposal is centered around making the golf course a “nature destination” for the city, but it would take several years for the land to be reverted to a natural area because of pesticides and other chemicals used at the golf course.
“If it comes down to that, there are a lot of different things we could do and programs we could offer in a different light because of that,” Castillo said.
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has reported extensively about the city’s subsidies for its golf operations and will follow the story as leaders decide the future of the Snyder Park Golf Course.