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Golfers pitch plan to save Mif

Submitted by on 1, April 8, 2009 – 6:50 amOne Comment

mif-albrightAlameda’s junior and senior golfers made a passionate pitch to the city council Tuesday to save the Mif Albright short course, offering a proposal to have a nonprofit run the course which they say shows the course should turn the green(backs).

The council was discussing different options for the 12-acre short course, which have included sports fields, open space and a land swap with Harbor Bay developer Ron Cowan. But they said they’ll consider the proposal and others to accommodate youths and seniors at the city’s golf complex.

“The reason I’m standing here is because of the Mif Albright golf course. To take away the course would damage us so much,” said Grace Y. Na, an Alameda High School sophomore and a member of Alameda High’s girls’ golf team, which has won top honors in state tournaments.

Na and other youth golfers said they couldn’t have learned without the course, which draws young golfers from across the East Bay. And seniors said the nine-hole course has allowed them to continue to play.

Joe VanWinkle, whose son, Glenn, is a golfer, presented the council with a plan to keep the course open and have it run by a nonprofit. He said several other sports leagues already have similar deals with the city to use other athletic fields. The council agreed to consider the plan.

“The analysis I’ve done is sound. The golf course produces money,” VanWinkle said.

Norma Arnerich, who runs the junior golfers program, asked the council to consider reopening three of the holes for younger golfers to use during the summer months. She said the younger participants in the program – which serves youths ages 7 to 17 – aren’t ready for the bigger course.

“We’re just going to try to figure out something,” she said.

The city closed the course in November in an effort to save money at the complex and water at the course, which is watered with potable (drinking) water. But the city’s golf commission and other golf enthusiasts have routinely questioned the city’s numbers.

All of the recreational uses proposed for the course would cost the city money, from $30,000 for open space to $4 million for all-weather sports fields. Cowan has said he is not interested in a land swap that was proposed by Harbor Bay businesses who oppose his plan to build homes on the 12 acres he owns.

Kemper Sports, which has been running the golf complex since the beginning of this year, told the council it made the right decision in closing the course and suggested the city find other uses for the land.

“We believe it made sense to close that property. We believe that property has a variety of potential uses,” Kemper’s John Steagall said. He did not elaborate on what those uses could be, though he did say the city needs money to renovate the complex.

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