Concerned residents speak out for hours over potential closure of Sinnissippi Golf Course

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — The Rockford Park District invited the community to come and weigh in on the potential closure of Sinnissippi Golf Course. People packed into the Webbs Norman Center and for roughly three hours, the golf course took center stage as resident after resident made emotional pleas to save the course.

Executive Director Jay Sandine started off the public comment section by giving the audience a breakdown of how the district receives funding, the hurdles it faces moving forward, along with a breakdown of revenue and deficits at each of the park district golf courses.

According to RPD data, in 2019 each of the RPD golf courses are expected to end the year in the red.  Sinnissippi is project to be at $119,111, Elliot at $87, 721, Sandy Hollow at $24,700, Ingersoll at $98,607, and Aldeen at $242,058. While Aldeen is set to lose the most, Sandine says it made a roughly $110,000 improvement compared to last year due to special events at the Rockford Bank & Trust Pavilion.

Ultimately, Sandine says overall play at Sinnissippi is down with 11,121 rounds played so far in 2019, the least out of all five courses in 2019.  Last year the district discussed repurposing, leasing, or selling Elliot Golf Course. However, Sandine says now Elliot is performing better and is a strong course for the district’s youth program.

“We have to reduce our footprint we do not want to close Sinnissippi Golf Course,” says Sandine. “We know the history and attachment to that golf course. We know it was our first and it’s important. But the facts are less people are playing there now. It’s easier in our minds to modify that land into something that we think would be more of a community benefit.”

Some of those proposed modifications include a sledding hill, dog park, disc golf course, and walking path.

17 people signed up to speak following Sandine’s remarks, many of them making emotional pleas and voicing their opposition to the park district’s idea to shut down Sinnissippi. Multiple people proposed ideas for private and corporate sponsoring of Sinnissippi  or major fundraising days to keep the course afloat.

“This group is a generating many excellent ideas and concepts of ways to improve revenue at Sinnissippi Golf Course,” says Jim McDowell. “Time. We can do this if given a little bit of time.”

In addition to the closure of Sinnissippi, other budget recommendations include suspension of the snow park at Alpine Hills along with Alpine Pool. The park district board is expected to make a final decision on proposed cuts at the November 19th meeting.

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden

Investigative Reporter

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