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'I'd like to see the course maintained': City weighs public opinion on push to shutdown Cherokee Golf Course, expand park space

The management of Louisville's public golf courses has been a hotly debated topic for years. The city says attempts to take bidders on Cherokee haven't worked out.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Community members are sharing thoughts on the future of Louisville's oldest public golf course, amid the latest push to shut it down in favor of turning the property into expanded park space.

Olmsted Parks Conservancy, a non-profit that helps run several of the Metro's biggest parks, renewed its efforts to turn what the group calls an "underutilized" area into an expansion of Cherokee Park.

In a proposal sent to Metro Parks and Recreation, originally submitted in 2019, Olmsted voiced desires to transform the land into a hotspot for fishing, boating and even dining.

The city is not taking a stance yet.

"We just want to hear from people on what they want to see Cherokee Golf Course become: Remain a golf course, or do they support the Olmsted Conservancy's plan?" said Margaret Brosko, acting director of the Parks department.

The historic Cherokee Golf Course has been around for more than 125 years, one of the oldest in the country. But some argue the qualities that carry so much sentimental value for many are the same reasons the course has been a tough sell for years: An aging, shorter, 9-hole course, and the only public one in Louisville without a golf pro or non-profit running the show.

"Sometimes you don't know what you got until it's gone, and that's what I think is going to happen if this place is closed down," said golfer Tad Desanto, who's played at Cherokee since the 80s.

Councilwoman Cassie Chambers-Armstrong says she's received more than 100 emails in the last five days about the future of the course.

"We're not opposed to repurposing this golf course, but before we do that, we want to make sure we're thoroughly vetting the possibility of keeping it open," said Chambers-Armstrong, who also told us the course has taken significant financial losses over the years.

Golfers we talked to say they respect the conservancy's efforts, but believe there is a way for the group to serve its mission while keeping at least parts of the course in tact.

"I'd like to see the course maintained as a nine-hole course if possible," Desanto said. "I think there can be some compromise on how this thing is developed."

The city says it hasn't made a decision yet, and will take more public comment first. On Monday night, April 25, Parks & Recreation reps along with Councilwoman Armstrong hosted the second of two public meetings -- this one at the Cherokee Golf Course clubhouse -- to get community feedback.

Even if the city chooses to accept and proceed with the proposal, ultimately any proposed changes will have to be approved by Metro Council down the line.

The management of Louisville's public golf courses has been a hotly debated topic for years. The city says attempts to take viable bidders on Cherokee haven't worked out to this point.

Contact reporter Isaiah Kim-Martinez at IKimMartin@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter

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