By Bruce Meadows
BV: To be or not to be ???
As a number of concerned citizens – not all of them golfers – have expressed their opinions on the possible closure and “repurposing” of Bennett Valley Golf Course, it’s become apparent that this has already become a hot issue and shows no sign of cooling off.
That being said, I felt some of these communications were worth sharing so am re-printing a few of the comments posted on Facebook, etc. from the “Save Bennett Valley Golf Course” page.
I would love to hear come additional comments from you, so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This was a letter to the editor to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat from city resident Paul Jolly:
“EDITOR: The article about what to do with the Bennett Valley Golf Course is timely (“Pressure over property,”
Feb. 3). It raises several issues, but paramount to me is the purpose of any municipal recreational facility: to provide all people affordable access to recreational activities. This is true for a host of opportunities in our area, from parks to community centers. It doesn’t mean that everyone will or wants to take advantage of all of those options; what is crucial is that they are affordably available to all.
“Thus, I read with alarm comments about the course becoming economically self-sufficient, as though that’s an expected goal of any municipal facility. It is not. The cost of these facilities ought to be defrayed by our government. Even if you don’t play after-work soccer at one of our public fields, even if you don’t ride or walk on one of the paths winding along our creeks, even if you don’t mountain bike in one of our beautiful parks, these places need to be kept affordably accessible for all.
I hope that the City Council will see the continued support of Bennett Valley Golf Course as part of its sacred mission.”
This was posted by Noelle Pepper Tamba:
“My husband, who many know as a staple at the course, Mat Tamba, asked me to post this to the group (it was a comment), and seems in line with comments some have received back from council members. My main point was we need to ‘help’ the council realize that the BVGC is an asset, with the right vendor Legends can and will be profitable and cover the liability it is saddled with, and the course itself is both a cornerstone of this town, and an asset; both in a financial sense as well as a place for families and community growth, bonding and pride. Looking at development is not an option, it’s an escape route that is detrimental to the community as a whole.
“My two cents after attending the zoom the other night and looking a little at this is this is about the debt and the city’s budget. It’s not about more housing, low income housing, etc. it’s about removing the debt and helping balance the budget.
“They are looking for fast and easy, not what is best for the community or area. And they are looking very short term, not long term. It is land that is lucrative, even just the range strip, and selling this to a developer would clear the debt. Timing coincides with new contracts needed- legends and the golf course, so avoiding the time and expense of finding someone new and qualified is pushing them to take the easy route- sell the land, clear the debt and remove the need to establish new contracts/vendors for the space.
“I think they did NOT anticipate the community getting so involved, but having grown up in BV, like many of you have, they will have a fight. And this is good. The city needs to do its research, use local, qualified vendors to provide reports and get real, factual information. Utilize the resources of this community. And realize the value of keeping the BVGC as is, improving it- both the course and who and how Legends is run- will provide far greater returns in the long term then their quick and easy sell/clear debt tactic does in the short term.
“Hoping the city council is smart enough to take a moment, listen to these valuable resources that are local and will take a second look.”
This was a reply from Assistant City Manager Jason Nutt to Carole Bizzell Galeazzi:
Thank you for your email regarding the February 2, 2021, City Council study session discussion associated with the Bennett Valley Golf Course. We appreciate your feedback and want to take this opportunity to clarify the purpose of the study. Please note that the City is not proposing any redevelopment at this time and are only looking to study whether changes to land use could be beneficial. Additionally, the initial scope for this study includes sustaining the environmental quality of the property and ensures continuation of golf as an activity.
“As was discussed at the beginning of the presentation, the City currently has contracts with both an operator for the golf course as well as the restaurant, which are set to expire in June 2022. In November 2020, at the request of the vendor, the City Council released the restaurant operator from the remaining time left in their contract. In addition, we have been advised that the current golf course operator does not intend to seek a renewal of their contract nor will they be submitting a proposal if the City seeks a new vendor through open solicitation.
“ In recognition that the City will be soliciting a new operator for both operations, staff recognized that it would be appropriate to provide the Council with a series of options in advance of the contracts expiring. Providing this high level analysis and options, is the process Staff now follows on land assets, when any type of change is occurring.
“The question posed to the Council on February 2 was not a final decision on whether to maintain the status quo at the golf course or move to a redevelopment strategy, it was to determine if Council wanted staff to further evaluate options for consideration. In an effort to provide Council with a simple explanation of these possible options, staff requested feedback from CBRE under an existing contract, that was sent out through a formal, open solicitation process for City needs such as this, to understand what other public agencies have done with these type of public spaces. We did not inquire about maintaining the status quo as we have successful examples within this County and North Bay that we can draw on, if Council directs staff to proceed with new operator contracts. In addition, with the Council Priorities focused around housing, affordable housing and fiscal sustainability, it seems appropriate for staff to take this opportunity to provide Council with options on one of the City’s largest properties.
“Staff will be reaching out to interested stakeholders to better understand the future needs of the golf course, whether Council approves the professional services agreement with CBRE or not. Once the study is complete, staff will make a presentation to the Council requesting direction on whether to take additional steps on the study alternatives or to focus on alternatives that maintain the existing property use.”
Jason Nutt | Assistant City Manager
Director of Transportation and Public Works
Facebook post from Bret Felciano:
“Passing on the great game of golf, that’s what BVGC means to me as a lifelong resident and golfer. My parents with our oldest on #10 tee and then our boys range bound. My hole in one came on #6, a 6 iron red pin 5-14-91, remember it like it happened yesterday.”
Facebook post from Rick Dodele:
“This would be tragic, Sonoma county is already short on golf courses. Golf had a big resurgence in 2020 and has been a great outlet and break from Covid-19.”
Facebook post from Nikki Stras
“I worked at BVGC at the BV Bar and Grill//Longshots for 10 1/2 years. Even through the trailer years. I stayed until the last moment. I had the pleasure of working with and serving some of the finest people in this town. There isn’t one day that goes by that I don’t see an old regular or think about my time there.
“My dad played BVGC. My uncles played BVGC. I have life long friendships that came out of my time there. I’ve seen relationships blossom there. It is literally a part of me. I worked there when the course was about the golfers.
“I also grew up in Bennett Valley and still live close enough for shopping. The area holds a very special place in my heart.
“I cannot imagine the impact on the area and on the wildlife that lives on that course. Working there every day meant seeing every wildlife one could imagine. I also cannot imagine the schools, clubs, leagues, etc having an alternative.
“The city blew it when they quit catering to the golfers in the concessions department. I know not much can be done at the moment with that, but they absolutely blew it. Make it about the golfers again, and you may win some people back. It just might be one of the few activities right now that is easy to socially distance, as well.
“Just 2 cents from a girl who loves that place. I may not be a golfer, but I love BVGC.”
Facebook post from Steven Crane:
“I live in Lodi but have played Bennett Valley many a time with my friends in Santa Rosa & if you folks are going to plant homes on that property . . . you’re flipping nuts.”
Facebook post from Rachel Paine:
“I wrote letters but have not yet received any responses. The City’s stated goal is housing development. Have they paid a consultant to determine if this is actually one of Santa Rosa’s biggest needs at this time?
“The population of Santa Rosa has actually decreased quite significantly over the past few years.
“At the same time that people are fleeing San Francisco in search of more space, they aren’t flocking to Santa Rosa. Why is that? What do people look for when they move? Is it . . .
A safe and vibrant downtown?
Lots of job opportunities?
Lots of outdoor recreation opportunities?
“They want to delete green space and build housing. Who are these houses for???
Facebook post from Liane Nyby H·
“Moved to SR in 1963 when my dad retired from the Air Force. I was 15. NO BVGC at that time. Back then the affordable course was the Flamingo Golf and Country Club out on Los Alamos Road. (Now a bunch of houses).
“It is where I learned to play golf, along with my brothers who became (quite good) fanatics, taking after our father, Roy.
“BVGC is as much an asset to SR as are Howarth Park and Annadel. There would be NO such considerations among the powers that be to turn those places into housing because they don’t bring in $$$’s.”
Facebook post from Marvin Mai:
“It’s not just the golf course it’s also Galvin Park and the wonderful soccer fields and tennis courts and dog oark and especially important as a fire break for all the neighborhood.
Let your city council member know that it’s a citywide park not just the Bennett Valley that’s Save Santa Rosa park and recreation area impacted by any effort to replace it with housing. Stop the waste of $150,000 on a useless study when we need to save streets and other higher priorities.”
Faceook post from Yvonne Nidros
My whole family learned to play golf from bob and Jim for the last 30 years. We still think of it as our favorite golf course any where.
My husband’s father was a member of the senior men’s group until he died at 85. The course is a very important part of Santa Rosa for so many families. We need it now more than ever!!!
Facebok post from Perry Croft
Here’s the thing about golf, or any other recreational activity, actually. Just because you may not participate doesn’t mean you don’t benefit from a facility that offers that activity to other people in your community. We don’t all hike on Taylor Mountain, we don’t all go to the boat dock at Howarth Park and obviously, we don’t all play golf. But we all benefit because a golf course contributes to the well being of a lot of our fellow Santa Rosans. Even if you don’t participate, you interact regularly with those that do.
Similarly, just because you don’t have kids, or your kids are already adults, doesn’t mean you don’t benefit from quality schools. You don’t want to live in a community with poorly educated citizens, right?
Golf gives golfers pleasure and relieves stress. That’s a benefit to the lifestyle and well-being of the entire city. BVGC is a treasure to the entire city whether you ever play a round there, or not.
I will likely never use the fly fishing pond, but I’m happy it’s there for those that get solace from it.
Viewing any such asset as a transactional benefit for real estate developers only diminishes the true value of a community.
Facebook post from Dana Cannizzaro Coates
My dad loved golf! He love BVGC, it was his home away from home and a special place we used to putt together Sunday nights after “gravy” while my mom stayed home and cleaned up (the old days )
I searched for a bit cause I have hundred of photos with friends, kids, families, gathering at Legends for Easter. My mom and her friends play maj on Wednesdays. But too many to go through, I have many of him there at the driving range, the club house and putting green.
Will share when I come across them. Total 70s and 80s pics. This was how he spent free time, at a golf course. It is honestly my home away from home. But the thought of no BVGC brings me right back to childhood. It would be a travesty to get rid of it, find the solution please! Don’t get rid of this gem, and my special place I spent the most time at with my Dad.
Let’s hear from you . . .
Thanks for your comments, questions and suggestions. I appreciate getting them and would like to get as many as possible. If you have information about anything golf-related, including upcoming clinics, activities, tournaments or sales, let me know. And if you have questions, complaints or compliments about golf in our area, I want to hear them.
If you have a golfer – pro or amateur — you know who you think would make an interesting story, tell me about it and I will take it from there. Having trouble with your game? Let me know what it is and I’ll try to get an answer for you from a local pro.
We would be proud to include you as one of our sponsors – thanks to Bill Carson at Wine Country Golf for his continued support – so if you care to get some details about being a sponsor of GOLF 707, email me at email@example.com