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Hartford Hopes To Build Driving Range At Keney Park

Jenna Carlesso

May 31, 2010

Those looking to tee off at Keney Golf Course could soon have a convenient place to practice their swing if the city moves forward with a plan to build a driving range at the North End course.

The city and MDM Golf Enterprises, the course's operator, envision a 500-foot driving range that could accommodate about 20 golfers at a time. Organizers say it would bring in more revenue and make the course more appealing.

"We're trying to raise the bar. If we're going to have a golf course, it should be the best it can be and [offer] the best playing experience," said Kevin Burnham, the city's director of public works.

But before the plans are set in motion, organizers hope to gain the support of the Friends of Keney Park, the nonprofit group that advocates the preservation, maintenance and improvement of the park and its golf course.

Bayyinah Lyons, the group's president, said that members need to learn more about the project before making a decision on whether to back it. She said she plans to meet with officials from the city and MDM. The organization's board of directors would then take a vote.

"Because we haven't met with them yet, it's not clear what issues would come up," Lyons said. "I'll leave it up to the board to decide which way we're going to go with it."

It's unclear when the board's vote would take place, she said.

The plan for the driving range was conceived by MDM in October 2009 and has gained the support of some residents and members of the golf community, Burnham said. The range would be built adjacent to the park's north and south cricket fields. Advocates hope to have it ready for operation by spring 2011.

The $329,000 project would be paid for by MDM, which would reap all of the initial revenue brought in by the driving range to make up the cost. Over time, Burnham said, MDM and the city would split the proceeds.

Because it's a public golf course, guests wouldn't need a membership to use the driving range. Instead, they would just pay a fee, Burnham said.

"I think universally it's going to be seen as an improvement to the park by the people who use it," he said.

In addition to waiting for the support of Friends of Keney Park, organizers are also holding off on the project until drainage work on the nearby cricket fields is completed. That work was expected to be finished by this week.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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