City Government The present clubhouse at the Bobby Jones Golf Course, from which American Golf Corp. staff manage the course and golf play.

Published on February 2nd, 2016 |

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Mayor Reed does not deny a state takeover Bobby Jones Golf Course

In an editorial board meeting Tuesday morning with the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed called the possibility of the state of Georgia getting ownership of Bobby Jones Golf Course the “biggest false crisis that I’ve seen,” but never denied it is possible.

Mayor Kasim Reed today (Feb. 2) tried to set the record straight on any deals for the state to take over Bobby Jones Golf Course from the city.

Mayor Kasim Reed today (Feb. 2) tried to set the record straight on any deals for the state to take over Bobby Jones Golf Course from the city.

BuckheadView reported Jan. 28 that “there may be a deal afloat for the state of Georgia to take over control of the Bobby Jones Golf Course in Atlanta Memorial Park from the city through the use of eminent domain in order to kick-start an apparently dormant Master Plan to transform the 18-hole golf course to a new 9-hole upgraded facility.”

The BucklheadView article followed an earlier article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that suggested the city and state were involved in negotiations for a land swap that would move ownership of the golf course to the state in return for the city gaining ownership of a state-owned parking garage and surface parking lot adjacent to Underground Atlanta.

Reed told the Business Chronicle “he wanted to remove the mystery around the possible land swap between a state-owned parking facility at Underground Atlanta and the city-owned Bobby Jones course,” according to an ABC story by Maria Saporta.

The swap was positioned in the AJC story as being tied to the closing of the sale of Underground to South Carolina developer WRS Inc. The sale documents require that parking facilities be provided by the city in order for that deal to close.

The AJC article also suggested the “land swap” might allow the state to then do development along the BeltLine in that area of south Buckhead. (To read the Jan. 21 Atlanta Journal-Constitution story, click here.)

“There’s never been a desire to try to do a commercial development on it,” Reed said. Instead, the state would turn it into “a pristine” golf course and would “make the club house amazing.”

Graphic shows the 9-hole reversible golf course layout preferred by the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy in its Master Plan.

Graphic shows the 9-hole reversible golf course layout preferred by the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy in its Master Plan.

By comparison, the city has been investing little in its golf courses, and Reed said the longer term plan is to move away from city-owned golf courses.

Those statements Reed seem to validate what BuckheadView published on Jan. 28. Here is what BuckheadView had pieced together:

From what BuckheadView has been told, it seems that the state got involved because one or more members of the board of the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy became irritated that a Master Plan the Conservancy had submitted to the city approximately two years ago seemed to be stalled in the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Apparently the person or persons who were upset with the delays in moving forward, went to Lieutenant Gov. Casey Cagle and suggested that the state take over control and operation of the Bobby Jones Golf Course and painted a picture of how it would benefit the state to do so.

One person’s name that kept coming up in BuckheadView’s discussions was attorney Martin (Marty) Elgison, who was a founding member of the AMPC board who has been a passionate proponent of the suggested reversible 9-hole golf course layout with the addition of a driving range and kids golf facility, new golf clubhouse and underground parking deck facility with lockers, etc.

Marty Elgison, vice president of the Conservancy board, explained the key points about the 9-hole reversible course design that board chose as the preferred plan during a recent meeting.

Marty Elgison, vice president of the Conservancy board, explained the key points about the 9-hole reversible course design that board chose as the preferred plan during a recent meeting.

Apparently, Cagle was told that both the Georgia State Golf Association and the Georgia Golf Trail organizations would be interested in linking up with the Bobby Jones Golf Course if the facility was improved. GSGA might even establish its Georgia Golf Hall of Fame at the course.

Three other organizations apparently interested in linking up with the Bobby Jones course if improved (especially according to the Conservancy’s approved Master Plan) are Georgia State University, Georgia Youth Golf and U.S. Kids Golf. Georgia State University is looking for a practice facility for its gold team including a driving range.

It makes some sense that Elgison would be involved with taking the issue to the state, due both to his passion for the redevelopment of the golf course and the fact he represents the interests of the Bobby Jones family and protecting its legacy. Having the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame located in the original clubhouse facility for the Bobby Jones Golf Course would help that cause.

Also, the “Bobby Jones Georgia Golf Trail” of statewide courses is being developed and promoted by Jones Golf and the state Tourism Department. (To read the Jan. 28 BuckheadView story, click here.)

UPDATE: BuckheadView has since learned from well-regarded sources that Elgison was asked to resign from the AMPC board due to a “conflict of interest.” If he took the issue to the state, BuckheadView was told the action was not sanctioned by the AMPC board.

Reed, in trying to clear up “a lot of false speculation surrounding the deal” with the Business Chronicle on Tuesday, said: “There’s an interest in having a course for golf teams in the city of Atlanta that universities could practice on,” Reed said. “We have golf teams at universities that don’t have practice facilities,” according to Saporta’s article.

“There was a conversation about how to help kids have a place to play golf,” Reed told the ABC, adding that there had been some philanthropic interest in such a plan. “Any state of Georgia golf

Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy Executive Director Catherine Spillman explained the configuration of the proposed underground parking deck and tennis courts at the park during a recent public meeting that was sparsely attended.

Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy Executive Director Catherine Spillman explained the configuration of the proposed underground parking deck and tennis courts at the park during a recent public meeting that was sparsely attended.

team would be able to access the course,” the ABC reported Reed as saying.

“What is stunning to me is I never thought I’d live to see the day in Atlanta where people would rather the city hold this property than the state,” Reed apparently told the ABC, adding that there is no written proposal or bill that’s been drafted related to Bobby Jones being owned by the state.

However, Reed never during his interview with the ABC apparently said there was no attempt afoot for the state to own Bobby Jones Golf Course through some means, or for the city to go along with that idea and to attempt to take control of the parking facilities near Underground.

In fact, what he did tell the ABC apparently confirms everything that was in the Jan. 28 story written by BuckheadView.

What the ABC article reported Reed did say is, “Some people who oppose the state’s interest in the golf course as being politically motivated and trying to get the Buckhead community ‘riled up’.”

For months there has been heated community discussion that has centered around whether Bobby Jones Golf Course should continue to be an 18-hole course or become a reversible 9-hole course. The two sides are very polarized on the issue.

A “Save Historic Bobby Jones Golf Course” page has been established, and there is even a petition to let Mayor Reed and Gov. Nathan Deal know about the issues and objections to the 9-hole proposal.

According to the ABC story this Tuesday, a community town hall meeting on the future of the Bobby Jones Golf Course “is supposed to happen Tuesday evening,” and the mayor said he wants to be sure people have the right information before they make a decision. That meeting did not occur.

(To read the full Atlanta Business Chronicle story, click here.)

 

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