Even with road closures and lane restrictions this week, two years of planning and outreach—and delivery of much-needed improvements—have turned the event into “a blessing in disguise.”
The streets that wind around the Omaha (Neb.) Country Club aren’t typically clogged with traffic and parked cars, reports the Omaha World-Herald; instead, the newspaper describes the neighborhood around the 114-year-old club as “a quiet, wooded area where you’re just as likely to see a deer or a person out for a stroll on a weekday morning [and where] horses graze in pastures not far from the golf course.
This week, however, with about 150,000 people expected to turn out as Omaha CC hosts the U.S. Senior Open, the city’s northwest section “will see the kind of traffic that’s usually reserved for downtown events like the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials or the College World Series,” the World-Herald reports.
While that prospect “initially had neighbors worried about noise, congestion and rogue golf fans wandering through their yards,” the newspaper adds, those who live around the club now say they’re excited about the chance to show off the area, and maybe also rub elbows with some big-time golfers.
“I don’t know of hardly anyone in my neighborhood who is able and going to be around who isn’t taking on some kind of volunteer role,” Carol Lehan, who will be heading up a volunteer hospitality committee, told the World-Herald. “A lot of people are having parties.”
What could have become a contentious situation, and what still will involve closing 12 blocks of State Street and imposing lane restrictions on other roads during the week of the tournament, will now be largely a picture of peaceful co-existence, the World-Herald reports, thanks to how tournament and club officials began working with the city two years ago and started to communicate with local residents through neighborhood meetings that began last fall.
Efforts were made from the start to assure the people who live near the club, the World-Herald reports, that the Senior Open would not see visitors parking on front lawns and up and down the streets. Instead, a shuttle pickup site at the North Omaha Airport was planned, and a decision was made to keep all traffic off the streets around the course, with only area residents being issued parking passed.
“Early on, some folks thought this [would be] a major inconvenience,” Liz Leckemby, Championship Director for the tournament, told the World-Herald. “But at the end of the day, the rationale is to keep people who don’t belong in the neighborhoods out of the neighborhoods.”
Neighbors warmed to the idea even more after it was learned that it would come with the bonus of much-needed road improvements, the World-Herald reports.
While Country Club Road, which runs past the southern end of the golf course, is the kind of residential street, without sidewalks or other improvements, that typically only gets updated if residents are willing to pay for it, the City Council gave the go-ahead to spend city money to improve what would serve as a major shuttle route for the tournament, the World-Herald reports.
The city also fixed potholes on State Street and fixed concrete on 72nd Street that had fallen into disrepair, said Bob Stubbe, Omaha’s Public Works Director, and used a private donation to update a median just north of the course.
“I think the whole area is actually glad to see those improvements,” Judy Kathol, who lives in the neighborhood, told the World-Herald. “They were sorely needed anyway … [the tournament] was a blessing in disguise.”
Tell Us What You Think!
You must be logged in to post a comment.