An advocacy group has joined with the city of Fairfax, Minn. to seek legislative action to keep the course, which is in a state park, open. The state’s Department of Natural Resources announced last year that it would close the course and possibly return it to natural prairie. A state representative is preparing to file a bill to save the 90-year-old course.
An advocacy group called The Friends of Fort Ridgely and the city of Fairfax, Minn. have joined together to seek legislative action to keep the golf course at Fort Ridgely State Park open, through a bill to be filed by Minnesota State Rep. Tim Miller, (R-Prinsburg) in the coming weeks, the Mankato (Minn.) Free Press reported.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced last year that it would close the golf course and possibly return it to natural prairie, the Free Press reported. The department cited operation costs and financial losses as reasons for the course’s closure in September, but faced backlash from the Friends of Fort Ridgely and others who wished to keep it open.
Miller has worked with the supporters of the golf course since its closure was announced early last year, the Free Press reported.
After months of looking at possible ways for the golf course to stay open, the Friends of Fort Ridgely group suggested that the state lease the golf course to the city of Fairfax, which would then operate and maintain the course, the group’s Secretary, Jeff Daniels, told the Free Press.
That request, however, was not accepted by the DNR, according to Loran Kaardal, a member of the Minnesota River Congress, a group that works to improve the Minnesota River basin. The Congress recommended in November that legislative action should be taken to force the state to lease the course to the city, the Free Press reported.
That idea is not unprecedented, Kaardal said, noting that Minnesota already leases the golf course at Fort Snelling State Park to the city of Minneapolis, which staffs and maintains the course.
The DNR created a citizen advisory committee that met several times last fall to help determine what should be done next at Fort Ridgely once the golf course was gone, and it opened an online survey in December to accept public comment on the issue, the Free Press reported. The DNR survey was scheduled to close on January 6th and the Friends of Fort Ridgely were encouraging residents to comment in favor of reopening the golf course before the deadline.
The state of Minnesota purchased the old fort site in 1896 to create a memorial to honor those who fought in the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War, the Free Press reported. It was later designated as a state park, and then the golf course was opened about 90 years ago.
The bill will be discussed by Rep. Miller and a group of people who want to save the golf course at a meeting in Fairfax on Thursday, January 19, Kaardal said. One such supporter posted a comment to the Free Press’ report that read: “I think the Fort Ridgley should keep the golf course!! You have a group willing to maintain it…It is a reason to come to the area! So why not??”
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