Detroit: Turn closed golf course into park

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit – City officials want to purchase a former golf course for nearly $2 million and redevelop the property into open public land.

Out-of-control weeds grow around a derelict "Starters Gate" on the long-abandoned Rogell golf course in Detroit.

The city’s Housing and Revitalization Department announced Tuesday that it has asked the City Council to approve purchasing the blighted 120-acre Rogell golf course with funds from a 2015 federal grant.

Officials say they plan to turn the land at Berg and Seven Mile roads into a naturalized public park while improving stormwater management to relieve flooding in the area.

“The volume of stormwater we will manage on the Rogell site is like no other location in the city,” said Gary Brown, director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. “This is critical in meeting a permit requirement to reduce stormwater flows into our wet weather facilities. More importantly, residents and businesses in northwest Detroit have experienced basement backups and street flooding that can be lessened immensely by installing green stormwater infrastructure, which Detroit will see as beautifully landscaped bioretention gardens.”

The City Council is expected to take up the issue at its March 20 meeting.

If the city council approves, the city would purchase the property from Greater Grace Temple of the Apostolic Faith for $1.94 million. The city owned the property from 1946 to 2007 until it sold it to the church for $2.1 million. The church, with its main campus across the street, operated the golf course for about five years.

“This was the place at one time,” Martin Hardy, a trustee at Greater Grace Temple, said Tuesday as he looked at the course overgrown with weeds and tall grass. “A lot of people played here over the years because it’s a tough course. It’s a Donald Ross-designed course. A lot of people who played here over the years came back and played here, but the golf business went down all over. ”

The church operated the golf course until 2013 and closed it when it become no longer profitable. There was a deal on the table to sell it to a cemetery company in 2014, but the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals denied the zoning change.

Now city officials want to purchase the land with funds through the Community Development Grant-Declared Disaster Recovery, which supports green stormwater infrastructure to manage stormwater and reduce flooding.

“This site combines all the elements that the federal grant funds were designed to address, specifically mixed-use development, open space and stormwater management,” said Arthur Jemison, director of Housing and Revitalization.

Plan includes development along Seven Mile as well as nature trails connecting to the planned Rouge River Greenway.

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