A committee has been formed to look into how to resolve the issues, said Ewald Winker, the Interim Director of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department. "There are a lot of complaints coming from the neighbors, so Mr. Walker (City Manager Lehman Walker) asked us to form a committee and we did," said Winker at Tuesday night's Park Commission meeting.
The driving range opened in 2008 and operates year round.
At Tuesday night's meeting, board member Linda Peoples asked if Walker had expressed any of his recommendations. Winker responded that Walker had not, although he added, "you know he's got some feeling about it (the driving range) or things would have stayed status quo."
Peoples said she was concerned "that every time we get a new city manager we're going to go back and change something that was previously put in place." Winker said all he could speak to was the current situation at hand.
"Let me just say that the current administration is more sympathetic to the neighbors than the last," said Winker.
Winker described the driving range committee as a very fair group, comprised of people who love the golf course very much. Although, Winker said the committee is very split on exactly how to resolve the issues at the driving range. "We balanced it (the committee) so well that we're having trouble coming to a compromise," he said.
Board member Linda Peoples asked Winker who decided on the committee members. Winker responded that committee members were chosen by himself, Doug Castellari, General Manager & PGA Professional at Ruth Park Golf Course, and with a little help from the city manager.
Winker said more than half of the people on the golf committee were on the original committee. "It's a committee of neighbors, golfers, pro-range, anti-range." A list of committee members supplied to U City Patch showed no female representation on the committee.
The group has met two times since its inception. The next meeting is scheduled for tonight at Ruth Park Golf Course (pro shop) 8211 Groby at 7pm.
Winker said he gave each committee member a survey to fill out, and he hopes to use that as a guide so the group can come to some decisions about the golf course.
"Mr. Walker wants us to come up with some decisions tomorrow night," said Winker. He added, "He (Walker) wants to makes some decisions on these things and he wants to do it now, and what he wants he's going to get."
Winker said ideally, Walker would like to see the committee come up with the recommendations. "That would be the perfect thing, if the committee could come up and say hey this is what we've all decided," Winker said.
Winker said he's going to have to make recommendations that not everybody is going to be happy with.
"I've made a living trying to please everybody. This is probably the toughest one I've ever bit off. I'm not going to be able to please everybody on this golf range."
Board member Caryn St. Clair brought up the fact that the City of Clayton put up $30,000 to help fund the driving range and asked whether Clayton had any say on changes that occur to the range.
"If drastic changes are made, can they say we want our money back?" inquired St. Clair. "I'm not a lawyer. I don't know," responded Winker.
Clayton is not involved in the driving range committee. "They're not at the table right now," said Winker. He said said maybe when the recommendations are made Clayton will get involved.
Board member William Field, who is a member of the driving range committee, doesn't think Clayton's lack of involvement in the range committee is a big deal. He said Clayton put up the money so that its residents could play at Ruth Park for U City resident rates. "Whatever happens at the driving range shouldn't effect that at all," he said.
When asked if he saw the committee reaching concrete recommendations at tonight's meeting, Field said ,"We're always hopeful."