Residents fight to save state park golf course

Published 9:58 am Wednesday, April 5, 2017

FAIRFAX — A yearlong effort to save the golf course at Fort Ridgely State Park has shifted to the Legislature, where at least one lawmaker has concerns.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said last spring that it could no longer afford to operate the course in Fairfax, Minnesota Public Radio News  reported. The department planned to cover the course with native vegetation, upgrade camping facilities and highlight the park’s horseback riding.

City administrator Marcia Siebert-Volz said the course is a tourism draw and important to Fairfax’s vitality. She said people are concerned the park would wither without the golf course.

Email newsletter signup

“We’re afraid because they’ve already cut back on maintenance issues in the park,” she said. “We don’t want that to occur where it’s just a huge wayside rest.”

Last year, the state Department of Natural Resources continued with closure plans, stripping mentions of golf from park signs and hammering stakes into the ground where sprinkler heads would be dug up.

A local group of course supporters has since partnered with the city of Fairfax to take over the golf course. A fundraising campaign has generated about $70,000 in pledges so far.

Republican Rep. Tim Miller and other lawmakers have advanced bills that would force the department to negotiate with the city a low-cost lease, an alcohol license and other accommodations. Negotiations over a five-year plan to keep the course open began shortly after the issue wound up in budget bills vital to the department’s operations.