Lost among all the state and national stories we’ve been following was the Cedar Rapids City Council’s decision earlier this month to find a new purpose for Jones Golf Course. It was the right decision.
The council voted in favor of a resolution allowing the city manager’s office to move forward with plans to repurpose the course, which frequently floods and contributes to golf operations budget woes.
It’s a tough call, given Jones’ natural beauty and popularity. But during the last 13 golf seasons, the flooded back nine holes at Jones has been closed 11 times. The COVID-19 pandemic dealt yet another blow to the course this year, forcing its closure for 99 days in the fiscal year that ended in June.
The city has been working for years to address persistent revenue losses among the city’s four courses — Jones, Ellis, Twin Pines and Gardner — amid declining interest in golf. Officials are planning a mini-golf course at Twin Pines hoping to tap a new source of revenue.
We’ve argued previously that closure of Jones as a golf course was the most obvious way to help put the city’s golf budget in order and stop annual losses covered by property tax dollars.
Now officials will begin seeking public input on what comes next for Jones.
City staffers are floating ideas. A disc golf course in an intriguing possibility that could attract tournaments. Courts for pickleball have been mentioned as the sport grows in popularity. The repurposed course could be a destination for winter sports as well.
New recreational uses far less reliant on chemicals to keep fairways green, and the possibility of setting aside some of the site for wetlands, would help improve water quality in Prairie Creek, which runs along the course and into the Cedar River.
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It’s a large piece of land, and the recreational opportunities are endless. It’s likely that Cedar Rapids residents will have plenty of ideas.
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