Montville Township officials say they want to convert an abandoned golf course into a public park. But some next-door neighbors are not happy about the proposal.
“We’re not going to be OK with this until they sit down and explain it to us and tell us that we’re going to be OK and it’s not going to hurt our home values or damage our privacy,” said Jim Schick, 3187 Blue Heron Trace, in the neighborhood that abuts the Blue Heron Golf Course.
The 27-hole golf course and country club closed in November 2012, and the course now is overgrown.
Township trustees met with an attorney representing the owner of the golf course property in an executive session Wednesday to discuss buying the property.
Gregory Happ, of Medina, represents 6061 River Styx, which owns the eight parcels that contain more than 100 acres and valued by the county auditor at more than $1.4 million.
Trustee Jeff Brandon told The Gazette on Monday that the golf course would be perfect for a park that would provide activities like biking, hiking, sledding and cross-country skiing.
Brandon said the township only would be interested in the golf course property and not the clubhouse, which includes a banquet hall and restaurant that also closed in 2012. Brandon said he hoped the land would be inexpensive enough that the township could pay cash for it out of the general fund.
Following Wednesday’s 2½-hour meeting, Brandon said trustees did not make an offer on the property and stressed that they are in the very beginning of a process.
“It’s really important everybody understand that at this point we’re gathering information and exploring possibilities,” he said.
Brandon said that the trustees have heard the concerns from homeowners in the Blue Heron neighborhood following publication Tuesday of a story on the park proposal in The Gazette.
“We have all received feedback from the story,” he said. “We’re listening and when it’s appropriate we will absolutely involve the homeowners and address their concerns.”
Schick said some of the residents of the Blue Heron neighborhood are upset they weren’t consulted and several are not comfortable with a plan that they fear could damage their quality of life.
“What you have here is a private development that will be surrounded by a public park,” he said. “But the planning of this community was not for a park — it was for a golf course.”
Schick objected to Brandon’s statements that the golf course’s seven miles of paved paths would be ideal for the park.
One of Schick’s concerns is that much of the golf course’s seven miles of paved paths run along the backyards of homes.
“Sixty to 70 percent of homes are close to those paths,” he said. “It doesn’t give you a lot of privacy.”
Schick suggested the country club held golfers to a standard of decorum that would not apply to the general public that would use the park.
He also was worried that the increased traffic would be a safety hazard.
Schick said he and other residents of the Blue Heron neighborhood plan to voice their concerns at the next regular trustees meeting, scheduled for Tuesday.
Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.