The City Council voted against asking Lansing residents’ permission to sell 12.68 acres of the former Red Cedar Golf Course back in May, but then changed its mind in August. Now, voters have the opportunity Tuesday to allow the city to sell off a portion of the abandoned golf course for redevelopment purposes.
Three members on Council in May said they didn’t have enough information about the plan to support it, which was enough to keep it off the August primary ballot. So what’s changed?
For one, the property was appraised for about $5 million. Also, Ingham County Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann has promised to use organized labor on his piece of the project. However, detailed ideas about a potential redevelopment were not and still aren’t available unless voters approve the ballot proposal.
Lindemann has been talking about the need to clean up the nearby Red Cedar River — which is polluted largely because of storm water runoff from Frandor Shopping Center — for years. He aims to do so by making the former golf course a natural filter for the water before it reaches the river. It would look similar to the natural area in the Tollgate Drain area across the street from Groesbeck Golf Course, he has said. At the same time, if the city is allowed to pursue a major development on part of golf course and build a new park for public use on the remaining 48.32 acres, Lindemann has called it a “win-win-win” for the city, the environment and for creating new jobs.
The Bernero administration closed the course in 2007 due to budgetary reasons. If voters approve the sale Tuesday, the Lansing Economic Development Corp. — which can tout development as a way to attract more MSU faculty and staff to work and play in an area bordering on East Lansing — will launch a potentially global public request for proposals. The ballot proposal is merely the first step in a process in which the City Council — if attractive proposals ultimately come forward — has the final say.
Proceeds from the potential sale would go toward improving the other 48 acres, as well as for park improvements throughout the city. Bernero has also said some of the proceeds could offset some of the costs of Lindemann’s project. Lindemann has declined to say how much it will cost to improve the drainage infrastructure.
Council members unanimously agree that the river needs cleaning, though not all are on the same page when it comes to selling the 12.68 acres. At-Large Councilwoman Carol Wood, who’s seeking re-election, voted to put the question on the ballot but has said she won’t be voting for it. Wood believes that the administration intentionally abandoned the course so it could make the case for developing it in the future, and that the river will be cleaned regardless if the ballot proposal passes. Council members Brian Jeffries and Eric Hewitt voted against putting the question on Tuesday’s ballot back in August. Third Ward Council candidate Jason Wilkes supports asking voters to sell the 12.68, but said the idea is “concerning.” Every other Council candidate, along with the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Lansing Labor Council, supports it.