MODESTO, Calif. — A Modesto golf course that’s been running since the 1930s is set to close down after operating at a loss for years.
City staff said the Modesto Municipal Golf Course has been operating despite losing $150,000 to $200,000 each year, and rounds of golf are on a continued decline. After a 6-0 vote, city council made the call to eventually close the course and prepare it for sale.
“It is a historical site. It is a gem to our area,” said Councilman Doug Ridenour at Tuesday’s meeting. “Over the years, it’s been one that we can’t afford anymore, and it doesn’t look like that we’re ever going to be able to afford [it].”
A closure means the number of city golf courses drops from three to two.
The First Tee, a youth organization that introduces kids to golf, currently has a contract to operate at the nine hole course. Despite the impending closure, the city still intends to honor their contract, which runs through December.
The goal would be to close the Muni and have The First Tee move their program to Dryden Park Golf Course. Dryden would eventually change over from an 18-hole course to a nine hole course.
While the call is to close the Muni course as soon as possible, the city doesn’t know what they’ll do with the land yet. It’ll be prepared for sale, but it’s use its still up in the air.
The land has already gotten a preliminary proposal for subsidized housing. One speaker at the meeting advocated for the idea of affordable housing for West Modesto. Census data shows median gross rent for Modesto from 2014 to 2018 at $1,122, and the median value of owner-occupied homes during that same time was $265,100.
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City Manager Joseph Lopez said that there would be time for community members to chime in on what the land could be used for. There’s still about a year’s time before many decisions about the land could be made, he said.
Despite its status as a golf course, many in Modesto also know the area as a showground for the American Graffiti Festival, specifically as the festival grounds for the classic cars.
Councilman Tony Madrigal shared that the festival is still locked in for the muni, despite the impending closure. City staff added that they’d work next year to find a different area nearby for the festival.
While the land plays host to Modesto celebration of its classic car and “graffiti” history, the land itself bears a unique history as well.
Muni was at one time the original site of Modesto’s first municipal airport in 1920, Coffee Field.
“We’re unfortunately not a small city anymore, but we still have these gems in our community,” Ridenour said.
There is a hope that the property could find a buyer who recognizes the area’s historical value, according to city parks director Laurie Smith.
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