Golfers received an assurance Thursday night from William Roche, parks manager for the city of Duluth, that the Lester Park Golf Course will remain open for at least the coming season.

At an agenda meeting of the Duluth City Council, Roche said Mayor Emily Larson has committed to keep the financially distressed course operating in 2018.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

In December, the city projected its two municipal golf courses - Lester Park and Enger Park - will lose a combined $108,000 this year, adding to the $2.2 million in operating debt they have rung up already.

There has been talk of possibly closing or shrinking the less-used Lester Park Golf Course and redeveloping some of the land it occupies into housing. Roche said the community faces some "difficult decisions."

A group of concerned citizens calling itself Friends of Duluth Public Golf recently organized in support of maintaining the city's golf courses, and Roche said the city intends to engage its members in coming discussions.

"There's keen interest on scoping out what a planning process is that involves community members and yields a sustainable model in the future. That's not been defined yet," he said. "We want to bring those stakeholders together in the scoping process, so at the end, if it advances, that there's an end-result that everyone can buy into."

Roche declined to speculate on where those discussions are likely to lead, saying: "It's a very difficult problem, and I hesitate to really go further into it at this time, because I think bringing those groups together and really defining what the outlook could be is important."

At Large Duluth City Councilor Zack Filipovich praised the effort to include more people in the discussion, saying: "I've always found that when we put more heads together, the result is often better."