EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The idea of a golf course closing is on hold after community members raise their voices.
The Fon Du Lac Park District Board sent out a survey last month asking for the public’s opinion on closing the golf course and turning it into a multi-use facility.
While most people who took the survey were in favor of the proposed changes, dozens of passionate community members came to the Park District’s board meeting Tuesday night, hoping to save the 9-hole Par 3 Course.
Park District Director Mike Johnson says he’s considered the feedback.
“We’re gonna do the best we can to keep that facility open. There is no time frame to closing it at this point. As long as the seniors want to a place to play golf, we’re going to try to provide that for them,” Johnson said.
Johnson says nearly 60 people came to the Park Board’s meeting Tuesday night asking the Board to keep the golf course.
“I live by the golf course, I like that space. I’ve lived there for 15 years, it’s very quiet and when I think of a multi-use recreational park, it scares me a bit,” one speaker said.
“We believe this proposal is a misguided response to financial losses that could at least be reduced with a few simple steps,” said a man who said he was the Secretary of the men’s league who plays at the Fon Du Lac Golf Course Wednesday mornings.
While over half of the 600 responses the Park District received said they wanted changes, none of those voices showed up to the meeting according to Johnson.
“We wanted the input, we’re glad the room was full. we’d like to have seen a better mix so it wasn’t all one-sided,” Johnson said.
Of the responses, Johnson says 88% who took the survey were taxpayers of East Peoria.
He adds 14% said they use the golf course weekly, 8% said they use it monthly, 12% said they use it once a season, and 66% don’t golf there.
Johnson said 11% of people said they were in a Fon Du Lac Golf League.
21% wanted soccer fields, 62% wanted walking trail/exercise stations, 55% want splash pads, 51% want an all-inclusive playground, 50% want a shelter/picnic area, 22% are in favor of a golf practice area, and 63% wanted a community swimming pool.
59% want splash pads at other locations too.
When asked about a community swimming pool referendum, 69% voted yes.
The Park District plans to open the golf course, as usual, this year. When it comes to adding the activities that multi-use facility would’ve housed, Johnson says George Doering Park in Sunnyland is a place the Park District could put more soccer fields and a splash pad.
“We’re still looking at other parks and facilities within East Peoria to do splash pads. We’re still looking at areas to do soccer fields and other amenities. We’ll try to do over the next 2-3 years and try to phase it in where it doesn’t affect our taxes,” Johnson said.
Johnson says his board is looking to add more youth programs at the golf course to increase the course’s use moving forward.
“The golf course is going to open as usual, they’ve pointed out some areas they’d like to see improved. One being more programs for the children. We’re going to see if we can implement some more of that and regenerate the interest in golf, see how it goes. We’re also looking at some drainage issues we’d have to address at the golf course,” Johnson said.
“We’re gonna do the best we can to keep that facility open. There’s no time frame in closing it at this point, as long as the seniors want a place to play golf, we’re going to try and provide that for them,” Johnson added.