Provo Municipal Council has opted to hold another public hearing and an open house in early January before deciding whether it will surplus property at the East Bay Golf Course.
During Tuesday’s regular council meeting, representatives from Wasatch Educational, Provo Parks and Recreation and a plethora of members from the community addressed what has become a divisive issue within the city.
The discussion, which lasted more than three hours, ultimately resulted in a motion by resolution to hold another public hearing during the Jan. 9 council meeting, and to hold a public open house prior on Jan. 4. The vote was 6-1 with Councilman Kay Van Buren being the lone no vote. Van Buren would prefer the discussion end and the golf course remain as is.
According to Cliff Strachan, council executive director, “It allows council on Jan. 9 to surplus if they want to.”
During Tuesday’s public comment time, the council heard from approximately 40 people representing both the golfing community and those who believe the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine will be an economic boon to the city.
Wasatch Educational, the college’s parent company, is seeking about 24 acres of land at the East Bay Golf Course called the northern wedge as part of a three-phase project over the next 30 years and beyond.
The first phase takes the northern wedge and three golf holes, 10, 11 and 12, and would relocate them. That property in the northern wedge will also take care of the second phase of the medical schools plans.
For the third phase of the project, at least 15 years in the future, Wasatch is asking the right of first refusal to purchase an eight-acre southern wedge of the course if at any time the city would choose to surplus that portion. If that were built out, three more holes and the executive course would be lost.
Seemingly at odds are departments within the city itself. Scott Henderson, director of parks and recreation, said he is proud of the golf course and they have an efficient operation. Their financial standing is one admired and desired by publicly-owned courses around the country.
“By fiscal year 2019, they will eliminate the need for subsidies,” Hendersen. “We do not want to lose our uniqueness. We do not want the loss of a championship golf course.”
Butting heads with parks and recreation is the Economic Development Department that for years has been given marching orders to bring development to the area, according to Dixon Holmes, department director.
“Our economic development and mayor’s office have had recurring proposals,” Holmes said.
Nearly 10 years ago, the city was in negotiations with Target and Kohl’s to come to the same property. Holmes believes the time is right for the medical school.
“It’s a perfect storm,” Holmes said. “If we didn’t own property to put three holes in a different location, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Holmes told the council if it chose not to surplus the north wedge to Wasatch Educational, he would be done trying to bring business to that property and would move to other city-owned property in the area to help build economic development and the south entrance into Provo.
Interim Mayor Michelle Kaufusi was asked by the council to weigh in on the issue. She noted she was still getting caught up with the issues but did ask specific questions about concerns from both side, with specific answers from both to be brought to her desk.