Park authority seeks input on driving range
The Prince William Park Authority will ask for further discussion about the proposed driving range at Lake Ridge Park, a project which has raised the ire of some Lake Ridge residents.
At issue is about 31/2 acres of trees that the Lake Ridge residents want to keep and the Park Authority wants to cut down.
Brant Wickham, Occoquan District representative, informed the Park Authority board in a committee meeting Wednesday that he wanted to introduce a motion at the next board meeting to review options for the driving range, which the Park Authority received a $100,000 grant to build, said Beth Robertson, Park Authority spokeswoman.
“One of the board members has to bring forward a motion to reopen discussion and I would assume probably Brant will do that,” Robertson said.
The residents met Saturday at the McCoart Administration Center when Prince William Supervisor Ruth T. Griggs, R-Occoquan, called a town meeting and provided a forum for citizens to voice their concerns.
The driving range would be built under the aegis of the “First Tee,” which according to promotional material is, “a World Golf Foundation initiative that gives America’s youth a chance to develop life-enhancing skills through golf and character development.”
Robertson said reopening the discussion means that board members will ask the Park Authority staff to compare the cost of moving the program elsewhere, dropping it altogether or operating it at Lake Ridge Park without the driving range.
The Park Authority has already spent $16,000 of the grant money on planning and engineering. That money would have to be repaid if the Park Authority drops the program.
Griggs said repayment might be a better option than building a driving range people don’t want.
“I’d rather have to find the $16,000 and give it back rather than pursue a mistake that could cost a lot more money in the future just so we could get the grant that covers the $16,000,” she said.
The driving range would produce the income to support the First Tee program, which in the end would cost $300,000, Robertson said.
The Park Authority chose the nine-hole golf course at Lake Ridge Park because existing golf courses, public or private, would probably not be receptive to the First Tee program.
Golf courses make money from their driving ranges and golfers who typically use 18-hole golf courses would object to opening their favorite course to children, Robertson said.
Although Wickham will ask the board to reopen the discussion, finances and circumstances may limit the Park Authority’s options.
The process will include further meetings and Robertson urges proponents and opponents to contact the Park Authority with suggestions.
“We would hold another public hearing, so people would absolutely get opportunity to make comments,” she said.
The Park Authority can be reached at (703) 792-7060 or via the Internet at http://www.pwcparks.org so citizens can register a response. Griggs can be reached at (703) 792-4643 or by e-mail at [email protected]
Robertson said three acres of trees in Lake Ridge are worth the cost since other park land exists for Prince William County residents to use.
“There are 28,000 acres of parkland throughout the entire county. Of that 28,000, 25,000 is in the hands of state and federal [governments]. Of their 25,000, probably two to three percent is actually park space. The rest is open space,” Robertson said.
“That leaves 3,000 acres that the Park Authority deals with. The board has made a commitment to provide for active recreation with our 3,000 acres,” Robertson said.
Staff writer Keith Walker can be reached at (703) 878-8063.