Jackson Township officials are working on plans that will transform Little Creek Golf Course into a community park.
The township in April paid $850,000 for the golf course, which had been listed for sale.
A community survey was the impetus for the purchase, said Dave Brown, vice chairman of the township supervisors.
"A recreational park was the number one request by citizens. We're finally able to give that to them," he said.
The golf course along Route 116 offers the perfect infrastructure for a park, already equipped with parking, a clubhouse, utility lines and maintained grounds, Brown said.
Previous option: Jackson Township previously considered 27 acres of Jackson Township Sewer Authority property as a site for a park, but the cost was too great, he said.
It would have cost more than $1 million for the property, and it would have needed significant work, Brown said.
"The golf course was a bargain and lends itself well to what we'd like to see there," he said.
On what is now the level, front nine holes at the golf course, the proposed park could include practice fields, soccer fields, baseball and softball fields, a pickle ball court, Frisbee golf, a playground, pavilions and an amphitheater.
The hilly terrain of the back nine allows for hiking trails. Because the hiking trails would be cheaper and easier to install, the back nine holes would likely close first, Brown said.
The course: While Brown said he would oppose any effort to keep Little Creek as a golf course, no plans for a park have been approved by the board.
But it is the intention of township officials, according to meeting minutes.
"The township should not be in the business of running a golf course. We bought real estate with a golf course on it, but it will not stay a golf course," Brown said.
Residents have not expressed opposition to Little Creek becoming a park, he said.
"They've actually been complimentary about how the golf course is being maintained. But we can't afford to maintain it long-term," Brown said.
Little Creek Golf Course is currently being managed by the Spring Grove Regional Parks and Recreation Center.
The regional recreation group provides services in Jackson and Paradise townships and Spring Grove Borough.
"When Jackson Township bought the golf course, they asked us to operate it day to day," said executive director Kate Werntz.
Since then the Spring Grove Regional Parks and Recreation Center has been promoting golf programs and tournaments and managing the course's social media accounts.
"The course is for beginners and we're beginners at learning golf, so it's a good fit for us," Werntz said.
Looking for grants: Because Jackson Township is a member of the Spring Grove Regional Parks and Recreation Center, Werntz will be writing grant letters to help offset costs of the park.
She said she will be seeking state funding from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
"Once they (Jackson Township) have a park plan in place, I'll submit the grants," Werntz said.
When a plan will be in place is unclear.
"Nothing is happening at the moment," said Jackson Township Manager Bill Conn.
The township is developing plans, but has no timetable on when a park project may come to fruition, he said.
"We're still in the infant stages with this," Conn said.
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