Munson Trustees Waffle on Fowlers Lunacy

Northeast Ohio Golf

The Munson Township trustees had their first public meeting last night about the proposed purchase and closing of Fowlers Mill Golf Course for water restoration and the creation of a rural park. A whopping crowd of over 200 people showed up at the meeting to voice their disgust over this idea, and the Munson Township trustees did their best to placate the crowd by downplaying and/or deferring their decision as final. But they didn’t squash the idea, either.

The Plain Dealer covered the trustees’ meeting in a story by Pat Galbincea here. This time around, Galbincea’s story identifies many of the issues that anger taxpayers, including shining some light on those who might benefit financially from such a boondoggle, especially the initiator of the entire deal: Chris Knopf of Blue Green Solutions. The change in tone is great to see from Galbincea vs. his last PD story about the proposed project.

For a more comment-specific account of what residents said at the meeting, see the local News-Herald’s story from today. Also, see reports from WKYC-TV 3 and Fox8 News.

Before the meeting, the Ohio EPA sent a letter to the Munson Township trustees [PDF] requesting the required factual justification for their grant proposal. Spokesman Mike Settles also made it clear in an email to Northeast Ohio Golf that the Ohio EPA would not participate in the Munson Township meeting, as defending a grant request is not their role in the application process. (In essence saying, “Munson Township asked for this Ohio EPA money, they have to face the angry mob the request has created.”)

It appears the Munson Township trustees now realize that their poorly thought-out golf-course-closing proposal won’t skate by the Ohio EPA and local residents without a detailed examination and some significant blow-back if approved. Let’s hope the Trustees see the light in the upcoming three weeks before their next scheduled public meeting and decide to retract their proposal from the Ohio EPA once and for all — and announce as much at that next meeting.

As several persons at the meeting stated, the anger being generated isn’t only from golfers but from many persons; it’s about preventing selfish private interests from lining their pockets with Ohio taxpayer money for a water quality issue on which the operation of Fowlers Mill Golf Course has little or no effect. (Fowlers Mill is one of the few Audubon-recognized golf facilities in the country, a designation that is only earned by following “green” policies and procedures.)

Candidly, most local and state politicians who want to keep their careers going recognize this business-, tax- and job-killing proposal for the public-dollar waste that it is. But obviously, not every politician has as much common sense.

State Senator Tim Grindell (who is supposed to represent the interests of the citizens of the area in which Fowlers Mill sits!) suggests closing four of the holes at Fowlers Mill and building four new ones as a “compromise” solution. That would be holes #1, #9 #10 and #11, the beautiful and strategic holes that designer Pete Dye created with the river in play. Maybe even Fowlers’ signature hole #4, too, as the sizable lake on that hole has the greatest influence on the water table on the property. Great “compromise” idea, Mr. Grindell; only a politician would suggest destroying the 4-5 best golf holes on the property as a solution to a problem that doesn’t even really exist! (By the way, who will pay the $1.5 – $2 million in construction costs for these four replacement golf holes?! More tax dollars?)

. . .

KEEP TURNING UP THE POLITICAL HEAT! Here’s how you can help fight the funding/sale/closing of Fowlers Mill Golf Course:

The Ohio EPA’s decision on the grant proposal won’t be made until October. As part of the assessment of environmental impacts associated with the Fowler’s Mill proposal, the public can submit comments for consideration by the Ohio EPA. These comments can be sent via email to Bob Monsarrat, and all comments will be considered prior to a final decision on the proposal.

It would also be wise for the public to make their feelings known to Governor Ted Strickland, the Geauga County Park Board, and the Munson Township Trustees.

A letter to editors of the Plain Dealer may also shine more public scrutiny on this attempted misuse of taxpayer funds and stop it.

Previous An Update from the Greater Cleveland Skins Game
Next FINAL RESULTS: 2010 Ohio Senior Amateur