Neighbors Reject Plan For Sligo Golf Course

Little Bennett Golf Course is one of several facing possible changes by the Montgomery County Revenue Authority.
Little Bennett Golf Course is one of several facing possible changes by the Montgomery County Revenue Authority. (By Michael Robinson Chavez -- The Washingon Post)
By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Montgomery County Revenue Authority officials have proposed adding a miniature-golf course and a lighted, double-deck driving range to the Sligo Creek public golf course in Silver Spring, drawing opposition from neighbors who worry about bright lights and crowded streets.

The proposed changes at Sligo Creek, which also include an expanded clubhouse, are among renovations planned for four courses formerly run by park officials but taken over by the Revenue Authority last spring.

Keith Miller, the Revenue Authority's executive director, said the changes are intended to turn a run-down course into a "learning center," which will bring in both novice and expert golfers. But neighbors have objected, saying they fear the facility will become a nuisance.

"It's just totally the wrong thing in the wrong place," said Sherry Bonner, who lives on nearby Guilford Street.

The plan is supposed to be presented to the county Planning Board today at 1 p.m., at 8787 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring. Members of the public will also be able to speak at the hearing, a county spokeswoman said.

That will be the beginning of an approval process that could require additional hearings before the Planning Board and the County Council, said Kelli Holsendolph, spokeswoman for the Department of Parks.

The Revenue Authority took over operations at Sligo Creek, Little Bennett, Northwest and Needwood golf courses last April. Officials said the move was aimed at ending financial losses at the courses under the supervision of park officials. The Revenue Authority, a quasi-public agency that raises money for projects by issuing bonds, runs nine golf courses countywide.

Changes are planned at all of the courses, according to the golf master plan.

At Little Bennett, the clubhouse and irrigation system are to be repaired. At Northwest, tee boxes and greens are slated to be refurbished. At Needwood, officials want to add a "short game" practice area and expand the driving range from just over 200 yards to 300 yards in length.

But the most drastic changes are those planned for Sligo Creek, a nine-hole course that runs along the inside curve of the Capital Beltway. Miller said the changes are aimed at bringing in novice and expert golfers -- adults looking to perfect their iron shots and kids celebrating a birthday with mini-golf.

"Right now, it's just a golf course," he said. "Then, it's going to be a golf course [that offers] the ability to learn."

At Sligo Creek, the Revenue Authority wants to build a two-tiered driving range, with room for 60 to 70 people to play at once. The stalls on the bottom tier could be used for group instruction, the master plan states, while individual golfers continue hitting from the top one.


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