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Rockford Park District board votes to close Elliot Golf Course

Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners also received a preliminary 2021 budget, which includes a deficit of almost $800,000.
Cooper Watt lines up a putt at Elliot Golf Course on Saturday.
Cooper Watt lines up a putt at Elliot Golf Course on Saturday.
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 7:53 AM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - There will be one less golf course in Rockford next year, after the Rockford Park District board votes to close Elliot Golf Course in 2021.

Tuesday night board members met virtually to discuss a number of items on the agenda, including the future of Riverview Ice House in downtown Rockford. Park District leaders said they will recommend closing the Ice House if outside money for repairs and maintenance can’t be found by the end of the month.

The Park District board also voted to sell land north of Beyer Park to the International Women’s Baseball Center for a museum honoring the Rockford Peaches.

Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners also received a preliminary 2021 budget, which includes a deficit of almost $800,000. The District is anticipating that revenues will be negatively impacted through late spring due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We are working on identifying additional savings that would also include grants received. For the first time, the Board of Commissioners may need to pass an unbalanced budget in order for us to not have to further reduce services and programs for 2021,” said Rockford Park District Executive Director Jay Sandine.

The proposed budget will be presented to the Board at the December 15 virtual meeting, where commissioners may also vote on the tax levy, with the possibility of raising taxes to make up for the budget deficit.

Formal approval of the 2020 budget will also take place at the board meeting on January 26.

2020 Action Plan Update includes the following:

· Increase investment in neighborhood parks – Refurbish playgrounds and shelters, and provide new trending amenities and programs for youth, teens, and families. Reduce underutilized amenities.

· Increase investment in trails and paths - Maintenance of existing trails, and addition of new trails throughout the District.

· Invest in Clarence Hicks Memorial Sports Park - Add additional soccer and softball fields, sports park amenities, and improve the quality of current playing fields. Create new entrance to improve traffic flow.

· Invest in Lockwood Park - Construct an indoor riding arena for 12 months of non-weather dependent programming. Enhance and add amenities at the park.

· Invest in Levings Park - Continue water quality improvements for Levings Lake. Redesign road system at Levings Park to enhance safety. Expand fishing opportunities. Build permanent amphitheater, with funding provided by Hard Rock Casino Rockford.

· Invest in Washington Park Community Center - Expand facility, and invest in technology for greater programming opportunities.

· Reopen Snow Park at Alpine Hills Adventure Park - COVID-19 mitigation restrictions at indoor facilities allows District to shift resources to re-open snow park for the 2020-2021 season.

· Reinvent outdoor recreation and education experience at Atwood Park - Eliminate overnight programming at Atwood Center to focus on expanding daytime environmental education learning and tours. Increase volunteers and partnerships.

· Repurpose Mercyhealth Sportscore One - Repurpose to natural flood plain, and introduce other recreational opportunities (fishing, conservation clubs, etc.). Enhance investment in Clarence Hicks Memorial Sports Park, and continue improving fields at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two.

· Consolidate Golf Courses by Closing Elliot Golf Course - Increase investment in Sinnissippi, Ingersoll, Sandy Hollow, and Aldeen golf courses. Aldeen Practice Centre and Ingersoll Learning Links will serve as the District’s home for Junior PGA and LPGA programs for all ages.

· Invest in Beyer Park - Board approved the sale of one acre of land on the north portion of Beyer Park to the International Women’s Baseball Center for the construction of a museum and educational center highlighting the role of women in IWBC baseball and other sports. Staff recommends the proceeds from the sale of land to be reinvested in the Rockford Peaches Stadium, in collaboration with the Friends of Beyer.

· Consolidate Ice Facilities - The Park District recommends outside funding be secured to fill the operational and capital funds needed to support keeping Riverview Ice House. Due to the District’s financial crisis and current condition of Riverview Ice House, staff recommends funds must be committed by year-end, a timeline that has been discussed with the stakeholder group. If outside funding is not committed, staff will recommend moving forward with the original action plan to consolidate ice at Carlson Ice Arena and the re-purposing of Riverview Park.

One Last Swing – Golf Elliot for Free. Today, Wednesday, December 9, 2020 from now till 4 p.m., and Thursday, December...

Posted by Golf - Rockford Park District on Wednesday, December 9, 2020

On Wednesday until 4 p.m., and Thursday, Dec. 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can play at Elliot Golf Course for free. Flag sticks are back in, no tee time needed. No carts are out and the clubhouse will remain closed.

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