SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — Saybrook Township residents got a chance Tuesday night to weigh in on a proposal to turn a now-defunct golf course into a public park.
Larry Frimerman, director of Ashtabula County Metroparks, outlined a project in the making — Western Reserve Land Conservancy buying the 156-acre Harbor Golf Club and donating 118 acres to Metroparks. He did not know the sale price or any specific details of the transaction, he said.
No final plan is in place but Frimerman wanted to hear what residents think before moving ahead with the “concept park plan” displayed at Tuesday’s township trustee meeting.
“The nice thing about buying a golf course is it has ready-made trails and a parking lot,” Frimerman said. “It would be a draw for tourists and wildlife. There’s steelhead trout in Red Brook and you’ll be able to fish there once it’s open to the public.”
The 15 or so township residents who attended the meeting seemed excited about the idea.
Frimerman outlined general ideas for turning the property into a passive park, with walking and jogging trails and fishing in the summer and cross-country skiing and sledding in the winter.
“It has three to four miles of existing trails mostly paved,” he said. “The running club has been keeping it up, mowing.”
If the plan comes to fruition, the entrance would still be off Lake Road and Martini’s Restaurant would remain, he said.
“I am thrilled Martini’s is here,” he said. “They do a wonderful job.”
Frimerman touched on the history of the golf course, when, in 2008, a group of private investors purchased what was known then as the Ashtabula Country Club and made the golf course public.
They named it the Harbor Golf Club. It was a relatively short course but it took golfers longer than one would imagine because of its narrow tree-lined fairways and elevated greens.
The golf course closed two years ago.
Now, Metroparks hopes to receive about 118 acres from the Land Conservancy and use grants to purchase an additional eight acres for active recreation, such as a playground, water park or dog park.
Residents said they preferred a playground and a “splash park” over a dog park, and they liked the idea of having park rangers on duty.
Trustee Bob Brobst said township residents have been saying they want walking trails.
“This will more than accommodate them,” he said. “Here they will be surrounded by a unique, historical neighborhood.”
Brobst said he likes fishing and “Red Brook is second to Conneaut Creek for fishing.”
Frimerman said the Land Conservancy is going to keep about 30 acres of the property, opening it up for development.
Norm Jepson, chairman of the trustees board, said the property is zoned residential.
“What happens to that 30 acres will be Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s decision,” Frimerman said.
Resident can take a look at the conceptual drawing of the proposed park at the township’s administrative office, 7247 Center Road (Route 45).