Harrisonburg city councilman proposes ceasing operation of golf course

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — At last week's Harrisonburg City Council meeting, councilman Chris Jones presented an idea he said would ease the financial burden of the costs associated with Harrisonburg's second high school.

Heritage Oaks Golf Course is owned by the city of Harrisonburg

"My idea is that we actually cease the operation of the Heritage Oaks golf course," Jones said on Monday.

Located across the street from Harrisonburg High School, the 18-hole course is owned by the city.

Jones told WHSV News that his suggestion would save "a penny on the current real estate tax" and "reduce the amount of nutrients and reduce our storm water feed." He also believes, it would create more land.

Andy Kohen, the vice chair of the Harrisonburg City School Board, calls Jones' suggestion a distraction from the serious issue of overcrowding.

"They are entirely separate matters," Kohen said over the phone Monday. "I don't think talking about the golf course whether the city continues to own it or not is quite beside the point about funding the second high school."

Harrisonburg High School, Eastern Mennonite University and several other local high schools and universities use the facility to practice and compete at Heritage Oaks Golf Course.

Harrisonburg High School Head Golf Coach Chris Sorber told WHSV the course is a community resource and ceasing its operation would have a negative impact on the community and local golfers of all ages.

"We're just getting the service at Heritage Oaks that is unique among the other golf courses," Sorber said. "Plus we'd have transportation issues. You know I'd have to get a bus everyday."

Jones said there are other golf courses in the area that the schools practice at and believe they would be accommodating. Jones also said that he's thinking about more than just the city's second high school with his suggestion.

"We at some point will need another elementary and or middle school and we need land for that," Jones said. "Taking Heritage Oaks offline, will create a surplus of 205 acres that we currently don't have."

There will be a public hearing at the Harrisonburg City Council meeting next Tuesday. If the council votes in favor of funding that night, construction of HHS2 could still begin on time in December with a projected opening date of 2022.

Jones would like to see the school opened sooner rather than later, and Kohen hopes to see a decision soon made soon as well.

"I think it's up to city council to make a decision," Kohen said.