Recreation FORE Everyone

On Tuesday, May 16, Mayor Jackie Biskupski spoke to the Salt Lake City Council on her budget proposal regarding Rose Park Community Golf Course:

Thank you for providing me with a few minutes of time to speak directly with you on my proposal to move the Rose Park Golf Course from the Golf Enterprise Fund and into the General Fund this coming fiscal year.

I understand this proposal may represent a shift in policy for some members of the Council, however I believe after careful consideration you will find this proposal is in line with the philosophy of our City to provide robust recreation activities for residents and visitors, promote open space, and to do all we can to protect assets valuable to the community.

Last Friday, I had a wonderful time joining the Greater Avenues Community Council and residents from the Ensign Peak neighborhood as we opened the renovated 11th Avenue tennis and pickle ball Courts.

The City invested nearly $850,000, upgrading the tennis courts, and adding new pickle ball courts, which will undoubtedly be used by players around the valley.

I will admit this was the first time I had ever played pickle ball, and I can see why it is such a growing sport.

Next week, I will join residents and staff at the new 900 South Bike Park for the kick-off the Mayor’s Bike to Work Day.

This unique dirt bike recreation area in the heart of the City—complete with a pump track and multiple jumps—is connected to Downtown and the West Side by off-street and on-street bike lanes—making it the perfect place for the young and young at heart to show off their skills on two wheels.

Each of these spaces has been championed by members of our community, and provides those that will use them with high quality facilities worthy of the Capital City.

With pickle ball courts, playgrounds, trail systems, golf courses, and more, Salt Lake City has a proud history of investing in recreational opportunities for our residents and visitors to enjoy.

Like any neighborhood playground or park, Rose Park Golf Course is beloved by the surrounding community.

This is where neighborhood idols like Tony Finau were born and where young people chase their legacies.

Rose Park Golf Course is home to the Guadalupe School’s First Tee program, a collaboration between the course’s golf pro’s and the school. This program teaches skills and creates a unique opportunity for some of the most economically challenged kids in our City.

The First Tee program has brought programming to almost 350 students at Guadalupe School, and the Rose Park Golf pro’s are working to expand the program to reach even more kids.

Rose Park Golf Course is also one of only a handful of courses in the country, which participates in the Links to Freedom program.

By partnering with the VA, the team at the Rose Park Golf Course helps injured service members heal their wounds and work to restore emotional, physical, and social well-being.

This year 30 veterans have enrolled in the 8-week clinic.

These community programs are on top of the day-to-day recreation the Rose Park Golf Course provides to the surrounding community, including providing space for the West High School Women’s golf team.

More than any other course, Rose Park is truly a home course to the surrounding neighborhood.

My budget proposal will help protect and expand this valuable community asset.

While golf will always remain the anchor, by moving Rose Park into the General Fund, our Parks Department has opportunity to expand non-golf activities on the land, while helping to support programs like First Tee and Links to Freedom.

Our goal is to find a new path forward for the golf course, by opening it up to additional recreation activities, and aligning it with neighboring facilities—like the Regional Athletic Complex facility and the disc golf course, both supported by the General Fund.

By viewing the course more as a community recreation asset, and less like a revenue producing business, we can also open the game of golf to more residents.

Several Council Members have suggested lower fees for residents; this is something we could do if recreation is truly the top priority.

We also know, the land Rose Park Golf Course sits on must remain forever protected and open. With critical sewer infrastructure crisscrossing the course, this land cannot be developed—something our Department of Public Utilities has made clear to us.

The discussion on what to do with golf in Salt Lake City is not a new one. I know it has been contentious and frustrating at times. But we have a shared responsibility to find a path forward for these 1,000 acres of open space worth almost $100 million dollars.

While the proposal for Rose Park Golf Course won’t solve all the problems facing Golf Enterprise Fund, it is an innovative way to make progress.

With the proper support, we can link the golf course, Regional Athletic Complex, Jordan River trails, disc golf, and additional space into a Northwest Recreation Area.

This can be a pilot for other courses in our City as well—but we need to start somewhere, and this community asset is the perfect place.

Golf—like mountain biking, trail running, or pickle ball—are activities many of our residents love. Let’s work together to ensure we provide the recreational activities our residents enjoy.

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