Feedback: Dont change anything at Glendoveer

Metro will take comments into account while forming an action plan
by: Jim Clark A father teaches his son how to putt at Glendoveer Golf Course.

Glendoveer lovers cried out, and Metro listened.

At a heated Aug. 1 open house, an estimated 500 golf course, trail and tennis courts users unanimously called for little to no changes to the facilities.

'It was quite a night for everyone who was involved,' said Paul Slyman, Metro director of parks and environmental services.

The Metro Council sought to understand the community needs while at the same time considering ways to keep the facilities financial viable.

At a work session Tuesday, Aug. 16, the Metro Council discussed the community feedback about the Glendoveer facility and what to do when the contract between Metro and current leaser and operator Glisan Street Recreation runs out at the end of 2012.

About 445 comments were received both from the Aug. 1 meeting as well as from letters, phone calls and emails to council and project staff regarding the Glendoveer Golf Course and Fitness Trail facility assessment and business plan.

The comments were compiled into a 50-page document that was emailed to the council, but Slyman and Lydia Neill, a Metro construction supervisor and Glendoveer property manager, summarized the findings at Tuesday's meeting.

Neill explained that one of the main areas of concern brought up in the comments was keeping the two 18-hole golf courses intact, especially the west course, which is more 'playable' and a good option for seniors or beginners.

Council President Tom Hughes agreed that the two full courses are important.

'I think it's nice to have a course that doesn't intimidate those of us who are amateur golf players,' Hughes said.

Another important issue was the indoor tennis facility, which community members say is unique to the area.

'We heard very strongly from the tennis community,' Neill said. 'There is a very short supply of indoor tennis courts that are available. The Portland facilities are heavily booked, and there's really nothing on the east side.'

Councilor Barbara Roberts, who also attended the open house, mentioned the financial benefits of the facility as well.

'One of the things we heard out there that night … was that there are a lot of young players … who expressed the concern that they couldn't afford to belong to a tennis club, and this was the only place they could get proficient at tennis and there wasn't another option in the community,' she said. 'The financial piece was one we hadn't heard before.'

The proposed changes to the facilities have come up because Glendoveer's revenues have been steadily decreasing over the past few years, an issue over which the council expressed concern.

'The chart tells the whole story to me,' said Councilor Rex Burkholder, referring to the revenue graph for nine-hole rounds played at Glendoveer. 'Obviously things are changing on the ground, so how do you actually maintain this resource out in the community? … We need to figure out some way to make sure this thing operates in the long term.'

Councilor Carlotta Collette commented that improvements might be made to the course to both make it more usable and more affordable. These include a new irrigation system.

'My guess is in the long haul that's the smartest move,' she said.

In the end, the council concluded that some kind of change needs to be made to Glendoveer in order to balance costs and revenues.

'A lot of the comments are, 'Don't do anything to Glendoveer,' ' said Councilor Shirley Craddick. 'It seems like that's not an option either.'

Burkholder also brought up the importance of including the rest of the community in the Glendoveer project, suggesting that Neill and Slyman work with the city of Portland on their parks renovation projects for assistance, suggestions and feedback.

'In my mind it is a public space that is open to everybody, and it should be,' Burkholder said.

Neill and Slyman said they will take the next month to process the feedback from the community and the council and then return to council for another update.

It seems that both the community and the council agree, however, that Glendoveer needs to remain a community resource.

'I think that we've got a fairly strong message to make this a better place for golf and tennis, but that significant changes are probably not going to be part of the formula,' Hughes said.