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    Golf, Jefferson Park, and Social Justice

    The City Council has unanimously approved a proposed modernization of the Jefferson Park golf clubhouse and expansion of the driving range.  The proposal will replace the existing clubhouse with a new and expanded facility, and will also expand the driving range by adding a second deck and corresponding netting, along with revamping the lighting system to focus the lights on the driving range and reduce glare and impact in the surrounding community.

    This project is another step forward on dramatically improving Jefferson Park, as was called for in the neighborhood plan.  The City has invested millions of dollars in burying the reservoir, redeveloping the Park, and adding new sports fields and other park elements (including a Food Forest!).  The upgrade of the golf facilities will benefit Beacon Hill residents who golf, as well as those who don’t, as it includes a restaurant and other amenities.  It also benefits the entire Seattle area golfing community by significantly improving this facility. 

    Beacon Hill is one of our most diverse communities, and the Jefferson Park facility has historically been the premier facility serving members of Seattle’s minority communities who golf.  This project, like the other improvements to Jefferson Park, demonstrates the City’s commitment to investing in our neighborhoods and in facilities that serve minority and low income communities, a key element in our commitment to the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative.

    The North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan called for “…a new clubhouse per the effective design used at the Interbay golf facility.  Consider construction of a double-decker (driving range) facility in order to maximize efficiency of operation and increase the revenues from these facilities.”  Renovating or replacing the Jefferson Park clubhouse and expanding the driving range were both included the master plan for Seattle’s golf facilities developed in 2009.  However, while approximately 80% of the emails I received on this project supported it, some community members expressed concerns about the lighting, the replacement of the historic building, the cost of replacing the building, and the design of the new building.

    • As noted above, even though the new lighting will be higher, it will be much more focused on illuminating the driving range, and will greatly reduce the glare and impact around the facility.  The light trespass map shows clearly that this will be an improvement for neighbors and drivers on Beacon Avenue.  We have experienced similar results with new lighting at many of our athletic fields.
    • The building was submitted to the Landmarks Board, and a motion to give it a landmark designation failed by a 4 to 4 vote.  Even if a historic designation was granted, that would not necessarily have resulted in building preservation, only that landmark status would have to be taken into account in any renovation or replacement.  The Council generally defers to the recommendations of the Landmarks Board, who are our experts in historic preservation.
    • While replacement of the building will cost approximately $1 million more than the estimated cost of renovation, there are substantial benefits ranging from energy conservation to improved interior design as a result of replacing the building.  This project is fully funded out of golf revenues, not the City’s general fund, and the project is expected to increase those revenues.
    • The Design Commission approved the new design, and the Council generally defers to those experts on design issues.  People often have strong feelings about designs, both positive and negative, and we are generally reluctant to impose our aesthetic standards.

    The project will begin construction in the next few months.

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