I disagree with the plans for Lester Park Golf Course (Our View: “Sacrificing Lester a 'sad necessity' to save public golf in Duluth,” Feb. 27).
I feel there are things that could be done to keep Lester open, things that would allow golfing to continue while appealing to other interests. There’s room for more than one group or idea.
The only things I seem to hear about the Lester Park Golf Course is that it’s too costly to operate, we need to close it, golf is dead, and it’s elitist anyway. Could it be that that’s being said to fulfill a certain narrative?
Public golf is not elitist!
No one knows what the future will bring, and people need options. There hasn’t been enough discussion about making Lester a multi-use area. You could build homes in some of the wooded areas around the original course, a prospect that already has been proposed for the course’s newer “Lake Nine.” How about a multi-use event center, too, with apartments above? The clubhouse and a restaurant could be in the same complex.
Has there been any consideration given to getting participation from other groups? Like bikers, hikers, birders, disc golfers, and out-of-town golfers? You could add biking and hiking trails or a disc golf course on the “Lake Nine” or throughout the original 18 holes.
Outdoor social-distancing space could be provided with flexibility in planning. You may even be able to ask for money or time donations from some of these groups.
It doesn’t make sense to adhere to rules that may restrict allowing people or businesses to offer help. How about partnering with the University of Minnesota Duluth or Lake Superior College? The course could be incorporated into educational curriculum, with business, horticultural, sports, restaurant-management, and other classes offered.
Has there been consideration to lease the 18 holes at Lester Park to a group for a fee or for a percentage of the gate? Or for this group to fix up the course by making repairs or updating the irrigation system? Maybe it wouldn’t have to be a Cadillac system, just a Chevy. This group would make its revenue from green fees or clubhouse sales. It could be set up like a construction company building a school and then selling it back to a school district over several years.
It has always seemed there was a hidden agenda to close Lester. It also seems the city administration is now taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to do just that. But why?
The added cost of a third nine holes at both Enger and Lester, with the courses needing to make up the cost, never seemed like fair treatment — especially with the city subsidies we see, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, for Spirit Mountain.
With Lester, it always seems, “We can’t do this” or, “We can’t try that.” Why not say instead, “How about this?” or, “How about that?” or, “How can we do it?” There are ways to include more groups and participation at Lester and offer more to more people.
Now is the time to try something. I don’t agree that Lester should be or needs to be closed. The next two years provide time to try win-win solutions.
What a jewel it could be. What an example such cooperation and partnership would set. We could do something new without losing our history and without losing something that was bequeathed to us by our predecessors.
Tim Allen grew up in Lakeside-Lester Park where he caddied for his father at Lester Park Golf Course.