A task force will look into future possibilities for the Audubon Golf Course in Amherst, N.Y., where the remains were discovered. One idea floated was to convert part of the property into a cemetery or “memory garden.” But golfers have spoken out against any move to close the course for good.
The future of the Audubon Golf Course in Amherst, N.Y. is in question after town leaders say they found evidence of mass graves under the property, WIVB reported. Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa said officials are in the early discussions about the course following the discovery that hole Nos. 14 and 18 sit on top of a mass burial site.
Kulpa said it’s from the early 1960s when University at Buffalo still owned the property, WIVB reported.
More than a half-century ago, the university dug up bodies buried on what was then converted into its South Campus, trucked those remains to university property in Amherst and dumped them into a pit, WBFO reported. That land is now the town’s Audubon Golf Course. Kulpa is proposing to excise 30 acres of the course as a memorial ground.
At a February 24 Amherst Town Board meeting, dozens of golfers spoke out against closing the course for good, but Kulpa said it’s still in early discussions.
“What we’ve said basically is look, we’re going to keep golf operations going this year,” he explained. “We’re going to make 18 a par three, shorten the distance to get away from the area where we think is impacted by the discovery, and we’re going to spend a year with a task force.”
That task force will be made up of golfers who use the course regularly to come up with ideas to keep golf in Amherst, WIVB reported. At the end of the year, they’ll report to a rec commission that will ultimately decide what to do with the course.
Opposition is expected.
“It was surprising to all of a sudden to see, ‘We’re thinking about closing the golf course.’ What?” Dave Borchard, treasurer of the Audubon Men’s Club, told The Buffalo News. “We want the members of the town board to know that there’s clearly going to be some grassroots opposition to this kind of a project.”
The club, which was established in 1933 and includes about 100 members, was surprised at the town’s recent announcement to convert more than half of the Audubon Golf Course into a cemetery, The News reported. The club questions those claims, as well as the town’s proposed plans to work with Forest Lawn to establish a park-like “memory garden.”
John Leising currently runs Audubon Golf Course. He told WIVB he plans to work with town officials moving forward, but he would be disappointed to see the course close.
“We understand that they have difficult decisions to make in the future,” Leising said. “I rode my bike there when I was 14 to play the golf course, so it’s a part of me, also, and it will be a sad day if it does close in the near future.”
In the meantime, the course will open for the season on April 15.
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