The River Club in Garden City, Idaho looked into possible expansion because of county roadwork plans on a bordering street. The plan would have connected three holes of the golf course to the island. “[But] after we had a chance to do some analysis on what it was going to take, what came back was that there was no way we could estimate how long it would take to do that,” said club spokesman David Lehman.
The River Club in Garden City, Idaho, formerly known as Plantation Country Club, has abandoned plans to apply for a golf course expansion to an island in the Boise River, a proposal that drew pushback from a local conservation group, the Idaho Statesman reported.
The owners started talks with the Idaho Department of Lands in early 2020 to lease an island located southwest of the existing course, the Statesman reported. C+RB reported on plans to expand onto the island in December 2020.
The proposal was part of a course redesign that country club officials said was prompted by the Ada County Highway District’s plan to expand a street on the north border of the golf course, the Statesman reported. ACHD has put the road expansion on hold, according to its online project plan.
David Lehman, a spokesman for the River Club, told the Statesman in a phone interview October 19 that country club officials had backed off the plan, which would have connected three holes to the island.
“After we had a chance to do some analysis on what it was going to take [to execute the plan] … what came back was that there was no way that we could estimate how long it would take to do that,” Lehman said. “There just was no way to time the things that would need to happen with the island to what’s happening on State Street.”
The River Club would have had to establish a lease with the Idaho Department of Lands to use the public trust land, the Statesman reported. It also would have needed approval from the Idaho Department of Water Resources, the Army Corps of Engineers and other stakeholders.
Lehman said that between the approvals and the uncertain timeline for the road expansion, the plan was too unwieldy to move forward, the Statesman reported.
“Instead of potentially holding up the entire redesign … Will [Gustafson, owner of the River Club] just made the decision to operate in existing footprint,” Lehman said.
Lehman told the Statesman the course will still undergo a redesign to accommodate the road expansion. Updates will include a new entrance. He said the River Club never formally submitted an application to the Department of Lands for a lease, which the department confirmed.
The Idaho Conservation League, which raised concerns about the course expansion last December, celebrated the about-face in a note to supporters, the Statesman reported. The organization said more than 3,500 people signed a petition urging stakeholders to reject any applications the River Club submitted.
“We have no animosity with the River Club,” said Idaho Conservation League external relations director Jonathan Oppenheimer. “… We just didn’t like their original proposal. We’re encouraged by their decision [to abandon the plan].”
Oppenheimer said that although the Idaho Conservation League was opposed to construction on the island for the River Club’s private use, the organization doesn’t necessarily oppose all potential development there, the Statesman reported.
“[There have been] a lot of efforts to work on pathways and bridges [to the island],” Oppenheimer said. “It’s different when you’re talking about facilitating public access and ensuring the public has the ability to get onto their state lands. That’s a lot different from private use.”