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Former landfill could be par for course

A place where trash used to be put may become a place for people to putt.

City Manager Carey Smith is asking the City Commission to explore the idea of turning the city's former landfill into a golf training center. The training center would be used to teach people to better enjoy golf, he said.

"The goal is to design something to overcome the difficulty and allow people who are interested to be introduced to the game in the right way," Smith said during a meeting Tuesday night.

The idea wasn't completely altruistic or for the love of golf, Smith said. The city would look to a private business to take over the city's municipal golf course and develop the learning center site. The recently closed city landfill, at the end of Disston Avenue, is about 60 acres.

"It would provide a good environmental and economical use of the land that does not involve government money or the expansion of government services," he said.

Before the city or anyone can put something on the landfill, it must be approved by the state Department of Environmental Regulation, said Bob Butera, solid waste manager for DER. Butera said there are dangers in placing structures on top of recently closed landfills, such as methane gas seeping inside. The training course could be acceptable, he said.

Before the first structure is built, the city needs to find out how the golf operations are running, Smith said. He recommended to commissioners that the city conduct an audit of the golf course operations. The course, on Alt. U.S. 19 just south of Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital, has been operated by the same company since 1985. In August, the company asked the city to extend its contract, which ends in 1995.

The idea of creating a golf training center came as a result of Smith's talking to several people about how the course is being managed, he said. While the course isn't being operated badly, there is a need for some changes, he said.

"It really has grown out of a desire to see some change occur at our municipal golf course. The bottom line is a better operations of our municipal golf course."