Will the Village Reconsider the Closure of the Golf Driving Range?

Estero is urbanizing! Increasingly, this is affecting traffic patterns and resident wants. Recreation activities not provided by HOA communities have gained in popularity. The number of casual recreational users of various sports facilities has increased substantially as new developments optimize the land available for residential buildings and tend not to provide golf courses or other sports facilities that require land and significant investment.

Satisfying these needs has become a Village priority. In the last five years, the village has invested $28 million in land acquisition to develop community recreational and natural environments.

The Village also recognizes its role as a portfolio investor, not an operator of recreational businesses. Using assets to partner with professional operators to expand recreational choice is sound. However, when progress squeezes out an actively supported option, it deserves a second look.

Many individuals who use the driving range on Williams Road wrote comments following Engage Estero’s recent article indicating that the Village was planning to close the Golf Driving Range. Here are just some of the comments that have been made. Many others have made similar remarks: –

Mr. MK. “I’m sorry. What am I missing? Isn’t a golf driving range considered entertainment? The dismantling of the driving range will create a great inconvenience to those that have no access to private driving ranges and have to drive an hour or more (round trip) to have some fun and work on their strokes. Very disappointing!”

Mr. LK “I’m disappointed in this action. This is an important recreational facility for the community.”

Ms. LD “Seems odd to close down something that has reportedly seen an increase in use. Not only would you be taking away this facility from people who enjoy using it, but you would also, more importantly, be eliminating a source of income for a community foundation that benefits from the proceeds. Please reconsider this decision.”

Ms. JCP “Please reconsider closing the golf range. I use it, and many others also use it. I wait for an opening because it is filled with golfers to take my turn. After watching a couple of meetings of the zoning board online, I noticed the development of Estero is favored towards the developer. The town should have a vote on this issue. You are going in the wrong direction. It won’t be a village for long!”

Mr. JR “Closing this well-used community resource would be a mistake. As this article makes clear, the range is very popular, and usage is up. Why close a golf practice facility when there are so few in our area? Final personal point, the current management and staff under the Estero Foundation are doing an outstanding job – they are so kind and friendly. Estero, please reconsider!”

Even those who are NOT golfers have spoken up!

Mr. JBA “I’m not a golfer, but I’d like to see the range stay open. I am concerned about Estero’s proclivity toward developing every square inch of available space. Estero is better served by a non-intrusive driving range than by yet another development.”

The decision to close the Golf Coast Driving Range, operated by the Estero Forever Foundation, needs a second look. Closing this facility will reduce recreational choices for residents, not members of other golf clubs. Chicken ‘n Pickle, High 5 Entertainment, has been selected by the Village to develop an entertainment center on the 20-acre site – of which the driving range covers approximately 10 acres.

The Village will finance and construct the complex, which the operator will manage. There will be 20,000 square feet of indoor entertainment space, six environmentally controlled pickleball courts, an outdoor socializing space, and 12 to 15 outdoor pickleball courts.

While this increase in choice will give residents and visitors entertainment alternatives, unfortunately, the golfers supporting the driving range today seem to be ignored. Will the Village Management and Council reexamine the decision to close the golf driving range in light of the many comments made by residents?

Engage Estero is an all-volunteer, nonpolitical, nonprofit Community Engagement Association. We exist to inform citizens of significant community issues and encourage citizen engagement to impact the quality of life in greater Estero favorably.

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