Lights Back on at Ruth Park Driving Range

The University City City Council voted to turn the lights back on Monday.

Over a year after the lights on the driving range at were turned off, the University City City Council voted Monday to reverse that decision.

The lights were turned off after residents near the University City driving range complained that they were too bright. Before the policy change, the range lights would stay on until 9:30 p.m.

The council voted 4-3 to turn the lights back on while the Park Commission and Traffic Commission review a report on additional options for the driving range. The issue was raised by Ward 1 Councilman Terry Crow. 

Michael Glickert, Stephen Kraft and Mayor Shelley Welsch voted against the measure. Crow, Byron Price, Arthur Sharpe Jr. and newly seated Ward 2 Councilwoman Paulette Carr voted to turn the lights on.

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City Manager Lehman Walker presented a report on the issues at the course Monday. The report, which was put together by city staff and the Lawrence Group, weighed the savings of the lights being off and the complaints of nearby residents with the missed revenue opportunities at the driving range.

The report presented three alternatives to address the concerns of residents and golfers. They are:

  1. Lower the existing poles and lights.
  2. Lower the existing driving range pads.
  3. Create a berm and provide additional landscaping (including a fence and irrigation).

Cost estimates for the alternatives are:

  • New poles and lights — $30,000
  • Berm — $30,000
  • Landscaping — $39,600
  • Fence rail and irrigation — $25,250

Approval of new landscaping and fencing would need to come from the Park Commission. A proposal to eliminate parking on the north side of Groby Road needs Traffic Commission approval.

Crow said that it could take a month or two for the commissions to get to the recommendations and suggested the council vote to turn on the lights in the interim.

"The lights were turned off by city manager without council approval," Crow said. "I think it would be helpful to city manager to get a feel for where this council is."

Councilman Kraft agreed the issue should come to a vote by council, but pointed out the issue was not on the agenda for a Monday vote. He suggested putting the issue forward at a future meeting.

Glickert also said the issue should be on the next council agenda.

"Why force this down our throats, which obviously was planned," he said. "Wait the two-week period when al people in U City have a chance to speak on the issue."

A discussion ensued between the city council and the city attorney to determine whether a vote could take place and what sort of vote was needed. It was decided that council should vote to amend the agenda and then vote on the issue.

The motion was to revert the lights to the regulations previously laid out in a council resolution, allowing them to be on until 9:30 p.m. each night.

David April 24, 2012 at 01:15 PM
You previously had radically different reports on the profitability of the lights. Nancy originally said it brought in $27,000 - I live nearby (but am unaffected by the lights.) From what I can see, that figure seems outrageously high. Later, another study said $11,000, mostly from non-U-city folks. This seems more accurate. Before spending $30,000, the City needs to figure out which of these figures is the accurate one. Spending $30,000 to bring in $11,000 doesn't make sense. The City needs to do a real, certified by an accountant, objective analysis of all the money in and out of that golf course, including the range and the lights.
steven goldstein April 24, 2012 at 02:24 PM
With all due respect, your response is misguided. Even if we accept your premise, lighting will last 20 years or more. A less than 3 year payback on the investment of $30,000 makes a wise business decision. Frankly, I suspect the return on investment would be even higher.
Dan Conroy April 24, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Thanks to all of those who were instrumental in getting the lights turned on, again. And a special thanks to Ed Mass who through his perseverance and doggedness kept the pressure on to see this mess finally come to fruition. He deserves a Mulligan for his efforts.


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