Task force eyed to study 'future of golf' in Amherst

Future of Audubon course at center of debate

WBEN Newsroom
February 24, 2020 - 11:08 pm
Amherst Town Board

Amherst Town Board Meeting/WBEN Photo

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Amherst, N.Y. (WBEN-Mike Pesarchick) - Amherst Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa said at Monday's packed town board meeting that the town would like to establish a task force to examine the "future of golf" in Amherst.

Kulpa's statement addressed concerns that have been brought up after the town released plans to turn 30 acres of the Audubon Golf Course into a "memory garden" and cemetery for cremated remains.The project would honor those buried in a mass grave which a 2012 study by the University at Buffalo determined lies below the course.

The task force will be made up of representatives from clubs, leagues, coaches and other golf officials. "The task force's job is going to be to make a recommendation going into the spring of next year on what the future of golf should be in Amherst," Kulpa said. 

"The [recreation commission] has basically made us promise to hold onto significant golf aspects in the town of Amherst and under current policy, that includes an 18-hole course somewhere in Amherst," he said.  

Many came to the town board meeting to defend the 18-hole golf course, located at Maple Road and North Forest Road. Several in attendance were members of the Audubon Men's Club, a golf club that has operated at Audubon since 1933. 

Dave Borchard, the club's treasurer, said the group is skeptical of the proposal and desires town officials to lay out a solid plan. 

"We think that the town ought to have a full comprehensive plan that says the town project, they list a goal, a future plan for the municipal golf program in the town of Amherst. Closing the golf course doesn't seem like such a future plan," he said, noting that 16,000 rounds of golf were played at Audubon last season. 

Renderings of the project were unveiled at a Feb. 10 press conference. 30 acres of the golf course would be converted for the memory garden. Three holes would be left as a "golf center" according to the renderings. 

Kulpa told WBEN Tuesday morning that it really is a moral dilemma. "Golf is one thing, but watching people dump the end of their beers on 18 and spit their chew and cigarette butts is another thing."  He said ultimately they have to decide how to respect the dead and their final resting place. 

The course is still expected to open for the season on April 15. 

"The Town of Amherst has asked us nicely to run the golf course for the upcoming season so we have agreed, but we have understood they have difficult decision to make in the future. So, we will support them either way," said John Leising, owned of Value Golf LLC which runs the course. 

The proposed cemetery would be run by Forest Lawn and would honor human remains which were uncovered in the 1960s at the University at Buffalo South Campus. The UB project determined that the remains were moved to where the golf course is today, though an exact location is not specified. 

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