Group seeks to ‘refresh’ Lincoln Park
Proposal could shrink size of course, offer lessons, walking path
Grand Junction’s nine-hole Lincoln Park Golf Course could be transformed into a smaller six-hole course featuring a lighted and heated driving range and outdoor and indoor practice facilities under an ambitious plan unveiled Thursday by a local nonprofit group.
ACE Golf Foundation, which works to introduce young people to the game of golf, also is proposing to turn the land that remains after shrinking the course into a variety of recreational uses, including possibly an outdoor amphitheater, a mini-track for children, walking and biking paths, sand volleyball and bocce ball courts and other amenities.
Other park elements could include pavilions, picnic areas and buildings powered by wind and solar energy and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified clubhouse.
Proponents say it would be the first platinum-level building in western Colorado certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Organizers emphasized the project, known as “Refresh Lincoln Park,” is in its infancy. They have not identified a timeline or a price tag for the initiative, although foundation board member Tom Volkmann said it will cost several million dollars.
The foundation has spoken with representatives from Grand Junction, School District 51, Mesa State College and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce to gauge their support, and it plans to seek funding from private citizens, businesses and foundations. Board members said they will not ask the city for money.
The City Council ultimately will have the final say on the project.
Volkmann said two meetings will be held in the next five weeks to glean public input. He said officials want to hear what people like and don’t like about the plan and suggest other ideas.
“We hope from that to divine a plan that the entire public can be interested in and get behind,” he said.
Foundation Executive Director Mike Nathe said the project grew out of a need to create a place where youngsters new to the game can practice, hone their skills and learn the rules and etiquette of golf without feeling pressure from other golfers lining up behind them on the course.
He said a six-hole course would reduce the time and money it takes to play, two factors he believes discourage people from taking up the sport.
“They’re going to be able to learn this game right here before they go out, and they’re going to enjoy it,” Nathe said.
Built in 1926, Lincoln Park is the oldest golf course in the Grand Valley.
The 60-acre course largely caters to senior and beginner golfers and offers some of the least
expensive green fees in the region.
But its shortcomings have become more evident in recent years as new courses with more amenities have sprouted in western Colorado. Lincoln Park is landlocked in the middle of the city, with golf balls occasionally flirting with traffic on North and Gunnison avenues. The driving range is too short by today’s standards and is orientated the wrong way, leaving golfers on the course sometimes dodging range balls.
The number of rounds played at Lincoln Park has steadily declined since the early 1990s, and the course has had to siphon dollars from the city’s other municipal course, Tiara Rado, to support increased operational costs.
City officials who developed a master plan three years ago for Lincoln Park considered a number of options that would have altered the golf course or, in one alternative, eliminated it completely in favor of a golf learning center.
But the city ultimately backed off after residents turned out at open houses and objected to any changes to the course.
Volkmann said he anticipates longtime Lincoln Park golfers turning out again in opposition.
But he said one of the driving forces behind the project is concern there will be increasing pressure over time to do something else with the park and golf course, given its location and declining revenue.
He said he views the changes and improvements as “essential to refresh and revitalize the park so it doesn’t get stuck in neutral for too long.”
City Councilman Doug Thomason, one of about 25 people who attended a news conference Thursday morning to announce the plan, said he supports the project.
“From a personal standpoint, I think it’s a great idea,” he said.