Monday, May 17, 2004

Land swap to shelter park from golf balls



By Jon Gambrell
Enquirer contributor

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Plans for a land swap for a private golf course will be presented to residents during a Tuesday night meeting.

Roughly five acres of land apiece would change hands as part of an agreement between Beckett Ridge Golf and Country Club and West Chester township officials, pending federal approval.

The club's driving range, at the top of a hill, looks down into 150-acre Beckett Park. Over the past few years, officials have voiced concerns that people may be struck by errant golf balls.

The driving range did close during the 2001-02 season, but the township allowed operators to re-open last year.

The trade would involve five acres of the hillside for five acres near the golf course's clubhouse, said club co-owner Craig Fanning. In addition, the club would allow the county to use its two wells to irrigate soccer and baseball fields, as well as to create ponds.

Fanning said the golf course planned on moving back the tee, leveling ground to even out the range. If the land swap is approved by the National Park Service, construction would begin at the end of this season.

If the land swap goes through, West Chester officials believe, there won't be any high-speed golf ball strikes into the park or into the Muhlhauser Cultural Center, planned for the base of the hill.

Plans are also under way to add four baseball fields and concession stands to the park.

"Everyone is interested in trying to work this through and make it a benefit for everyone," Zerkle said. "We simply want to encourage everyone to give us their thoughts and ideas."

Meeting Tuesday

What: Beckett Park Projects meeting

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: West Chester Township Hall, 9100 Centre Pointe Drive




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