Awaiting the fate of a 9-hole muni

EDINBURG – The oldest golf course within the city limits currently has three options for what is to become of the 91-year-old track.

The golf course, owned by the city was at the forefront of the latest city council meeting where citizens expressed not only to keep the area free of any form of housing but also turn the 60 acres into a public space like a park.

The public comment section of the meeting saw citizens all speak as to why it should stay a golf course or become a public park. Before the meeting took place the City of Edinburg media department posted a video to their social media outlets the three options for the course.

Currently “The Muni” costs roughly half a million dollars to operate a year. Revenue generated from the golf course is about $227,000 annually, leaving tax payer dollars to cover the difference.

The three options are on the table for the $6.79-million property, which has never been dedicated “park space.”

The first option would be to renovate the course at a tune of $6.6 million. Which would include new carts, club pathways, irrigation system, bridges, parking lot expansion and renovation of the club house. Second would be to turn the golf course into a park facility.

The third option would be to sell the property. If the property is sold the only option the new owner would have is build single family or multi-family housing because the area is coded residential.

The course which opened in 1927 and was privately owned was purchased by the city in 2014 for $4.25 million. Terms of the purchases stated once the debt was paid, the property would become a public asset.

The City Council Meeting

First to the podium to speak was Mark Pena, a local attorney who hopes the space can be used for a central park area.

“Ebony Hills has been a part of our community, part of our history for generations,” Pena told the council. “It is a jewel to our community, the idea of losing it to sale would be a tragedy.”

Pena continued by saying the property has the opportunity to be a central park. The property has the possibility for hike and bike trails, there are already ponds on the property and opportunities for playscapes. Pena thinks the place has a multi-use purpose which could include a golf component.

Local, long-time golf instructor Ray Chavana spoke of the more than 200 junior golfers he services at Ebony Hills Golf Course. The Muni is a place where students can learn the game of golf. This past summer alone there was 85 summer golfers.

Chavana admits there is a feasible plan with a park and golf course, but like the majority in the room his concern is to save Ebony.

The meeting can be chalked up as a win for those who participated in government at Edinburg City Hall.

For the moment golf will resume at Ebony Hills Golf Course. When Pena finished with his public comments, Mayor Richard Molina asked him to chair a committee to generate a plan for the golf course.

“Let's put this energy into problem solving and not finger pointing,” Molina said. “It is not for sale today, no one has bought the property, and it is definitely into any multi-family type of deal or any type of low income housing.”

Molina asked Pena to not leave him hanging when the committee is formed officially, which in turn he replied, “let's make it happen.”