Officials divided on par-3 golf course

By Aubry Buzek
Staff writer
abuzek@cnjonline.com

The fate of one recreational area in town is causing a rift between some city officials.

At the Parks, Recreation and Beautification Committee meeting on Monday, things got heated between committee members regarding the future of Hillcrest Park and whether the par-3 course should be preserved.

One of the plans presented by Consensus Planning of Albuquerque would eliminate the par-3 course and use the area as a disc golf course.

Committee member Natalie Hobbs brought up the conversation, asking the room “Do we need it or not?”

Parks and Recreation Director Mark Dayhoff made the case to eliminate it.

“My feeling on the par 3, because of the expense which we looked at, and the large area that it takes up, and the handful of people that utilize it — I don’t feel we need it, and I felt that way from the start,” Dayhoff said. “I still have a problem with that much area and the expense it would take, the manpower to keep it up and for such low usage.”

Mayor Pro Tem Juan Garza said the low use could be from the lack of maintenance on the course.

“We used to have three golf courses in Clovis — Colonial, the par 3 and muni. Now we are only going to have one golf course?” Garza asked. “You think everybody wants to go play at Colonial? There are other people that would like to go play at the par 3, but in the condition that the course is in — because of the negligence that we have in this city — because nobody wants to address the problem, nobody plays there.”

Garza said the idea the course is a waste of property was “ridiculous,” before he got angry walked out of the meeting.

Cheryl Elliott, wife of Commissioner Gary Elliott, said the city made a promise to keep the course.

“We were promised par three whenever they opened up Colonial,” Cheryl Elliott said. “There’s lots of people — older people especially — that do not want to go to Colonial, they want to go to par 3.”

Commissioner Gary Elliott said if the city had made a promise to keep the par-3 course, the committee may want to look into it before making a decision.

“They made a promise to the people that there would be a par-3 course,” Elliott said. “I think we need to look at that and talk to the other commissioners — because there was a pretty good group that thought we needed to keep the promise to keep the par-3 course.”

“There was a discussion, and as I recall the majority of the commissioners felt like there was some benefit of trying to maintain the par three course,” said City Manager Joe Thomas. “Whether it was a promise or not I would be hesitant to say that.”

Thomas said at the parks master plan town hall meeting in January, the majority of survey groups felt the par-3 course was not a priority.

“I think it’s this committee’s duty to find what’s the best bang for the buck that’s going to fit the most people, and if it’s a par-3 course then it’s a par-3 course,” said Commissioner Tom Martin.

The committee has until late May to decide on the Parks Master Plan, which will carry the city forward in park upgrades and improvements for the next 10 to 15 years.