Salt Lake County residents got their first look this week at four alternate designs for a new golf course for Dimple Dell Park.
But despite at least two admonitions that the presentation was not a forum for debate, opponents of the plan insisted on a fifth alternative."We would like to support the alternative you folks did not have the guts to put up here" - no golf course at all, said John Shakula, chairman of Citizens for the Preservation of Dimple Dell Park.
The four plans, designed by golf course architect Bradford Benz, gave the nearly 300 people who attended the public meeting at Alta High School on Monday night four alternatives to consider for locating the course clubhouse, park nature center and equestrian and pedestrian trails in the 645-acre park corridor that bisects the city of Sandy.
The complaints about golf-course plans is a refrain that Shakula and others have repeated since county recreation specialists first floated the idea to build an 18-hole course in Dimple Dell Park, the last natural park area in Salt Lake County.
Golf course proponents and opponents deadlocked early last year after six full weeks of meetings to discuss all possible alternatives. And though Monday night's hearing focused on a slide show and detailed presentation of the design alternatives for the course, it also included a rehash of the controversy.
The county's consultants said constructing a golf course would have a salutary effect on the somewhat rundown multiuse park and is the best possible way to halt the environmental degradation of Dimple Dell in a cost-effective manner.
Opponents said a golf course would crowd out other park users, create dangerous levels of traffic on nearby streets and destroy areas of archeaological significance. Though they agreed that multiple uses are appropriate for the park, they said Dimple Dell's natural-area status should be preserved.
But from the outset of the hearing, county parks and recreation chief Glen Lu maintained that the time for debating whether Dimple Dell Park will have a golf course is past. That decision, he said, was made in 1987.
"I consider the debate over," Lu said after the hearing. "This is a controversial issue. You can debate forever, but I don't think you'll get anywhere."
To some extent, golf course opponents agree. But they have vowed to take their fight to other levels - including to court. Still to come are an environmental assessment and an application for federal approval of the golf course plan, necessary because the county used federal funds to purchase the park land.
"Locally, the fight is essentially over," Shakula said.
However, "we will challenge the county at each step of the way," he said. "Even if it gets to the point where the federal government gives approval, I think we'll have a very good court case. We've prepared for years for that, because that's where we figured we would end up."