October 17, 2002

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Multiuse strategy proposed for Antioch ‘golf course’ area


A group that studied possible uses of the Antioch College “golf course” has recommended the college implement a multiuse plan for the 25-acre property.

Prepared by the Antioch College Golf Course Task Force, a group of Antioch students, professors and village residents, the plan, called the “Antioch College Commons Multi-Use Land Plan,” recommends the golf course include room for reforestation, community gardens and open green space.

Although the plan is by no means considered the final word on the future of the land, it is intended to be a well-planned recommendation.

“Everyone seems pleased with the proposal so far,” Antioch College President Joan Straumanis said.

Over the summer, the task force, along with members of the Antioch and Yellow Springs communities, met every Thursday to discuss the future of the property along Corry Street.

Bob Whyte, executive director of the Glen Helen Ecology Institute and chairman of the task force, said all the long hours and creative energy finally produced a plan based on consensus. “Not everyone got exactly what they wanted, but we did get everyone an element of what they wanted,” he said.

In addition to Whyte, the task force also included Antioch student Nathan Smith; Antioch biological and environmental sciences professor Tom Ayrsman; Antioch University Board of Trustees member Bill Hooper; Village Manager Rob Hillard; Roger Beal, a landscape architect and the owner of Yellow Springs Design; Antioch School board president Karen Wintrow; and Antioch biological and environmental sciences professor Peter Townsend.

More than 30 people, ranging from Antioch College students to Antioch School representatives to Yellow Springs residents, met with the task force every week, bringing their own suggestions and complaints, Whyte said.

The Village purchased the golf course from Antioch College in 1981 when the college was experiencing a financial crisis. When the college purchased the land back from the Village in 1991, Village Council passed an ordinance that prohibited the college from trying to change the golf course’s zoning designation to a status that “might allow commercial or private residential use.”

Beyond legal matters, serious efforts to change the golf course into anything other than green space have not arisen, although debate about the land in the past decade has centered on what kind of green space it ought to be.

In the spring of 2001, the college stopped mowing the land in an attempt to reforest part of the golf course. The college started mowing the property again last April.

Under the proposal, the group recommends the college divide the golf course into seven sections, including land outside of the technical borders of the area officially referred to as the “golf course.” The sections include:

• Approximately 1.5 acres for a sculpture garden area, which will be mowed and given more lighting;

• Almost 1 acre for a campus community garden, whose use will be determined by the users;

• 2 acres for an ecological agriculture area, which includes long-term plans to establish a community garden and possible orchard plots;

• 5 acres for recreational fields, which will also be used as overflow parking for the AACW Blues Fest and a Care-Flight field;

• 10 acres will become “meadow-swale” and will include mowed paths; the remainder will also be mowed periodically to control runoff and enhance wildlife;

• Another 10 acres may be partly mowed and partly reforested and maintained;

• 8 acres for open green space.

The task force also recommended the official name of the golf course be changed to the Antioch College Community Commons.

The task force’s plan closely follows former Antioch College student Seth Bond’s senior project, which suggests “developing a commons area” and “open space for communal use . . . central to the notion of community.”

Because the winter months are coming up, plans for reforestation and garden expansion would not occur until the spring, according to the proposal.

Ideas on the Antioch campus have ranged from the simple (mow it every two weeks) to the extreme (a 25-acre hedge maze) but the task force took everyone into account. “We ask that the proposal be discussed openly and in recognition that we are all members of a community seeking to improve the environment for our use and enjoyment,” the group said in the report.

Some of the more extreme ideas for the land are simply not economically feasible, Whyte said. “People say they want a huge orchard, but an orchard is a lot of work and it’s expensive. The purpose of the task force was to discuss why all these ideas would work and why they wouldn’t work,” Whyte said.


—Michael Hogan Jr.