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A spirit that is not afraid

Council approves project to renovate Indian Pines Golf Course

<p>Auburn's City Council meets in the City Council Chamber at 141 N. Ross St. on May 4, 2021.</p>

Auburn's City Council meets in the City Council Chamber at 141 N. Ross St. on May 4, 2021.

The Indian Pines Public Golf Course will be closed at the end of the year for Auburn University Regional airport extension project. City Council approved a $1.2 million contribution to the extension project as part of the consent agenda at its March 1, 2022 meeting. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring Auburn’s regional airport extend the runway for emergencies. The runway would extend across Country Club Road into the Indian Pines Golf Course. 

The extension of the runway would take away six holes leaving only 12 holes to be usable. Indian Pines opted to redesign its 18-hole golf course as a result. 

Bob Norman, board member of the Indian Pines Recreation Authority, said that the golf course has reached the end of its useful life.

“I mean this is a blessing in disguise,” Norman said. “The irrigation system is way out of date, you can’t even get parts for it anymore.”

Indian Pines which is jointly owned by the City of Auburn and Opelika is the only public golf course in both areas. Norman said that a large number of people are playing rounds of golf even during the pandemic.

“I have the numbers today from the pro, fiscal year [2018] and [2019], they had 38,400 rounds. [2019] and [2020], they had 44,500 and last year they had 52,600,” Norman said.

The FAA, State of Alabama and Auburn University have agreed to pay the City of Auburn and Opelika $2.8 million for the acquisition. The total cost of the proposed golf course will be $6.8 million which will leave an estimated $4 million. 

Other governmental units and public corporations contributing to funding including Auburn-Opelika Tourism, Indian Pines Recreational Authority, Lee County Commission, City of Auburn and City of Opelika. 

Mayor Ron Anders said he feels that this golf course is an important amenity to the community and meets the need of residents who cannot afford to play at a private country club.

“If you go to Indian Pines, you will see all ages and stages and careers and races and interests that descend on that course,” Anders said. 

As part of council members communications, council member Bob Parsons of Ward 6 reported an update on the study group for murals and public art in Auburn.

The study group had its first meeting and will meet every other Monday from March to May. Parsons said they will meet in the James Buston meeting room and is open to public to attend the meetings at 4:30 p.m. 

“Last night we spent mostly planning, information gathering and coordinating with other stakeholders,” Parsons said. “We are in the process of coordinating meeting with representatives from AO Tourism, City of Montgomery Art Commission and Jules Collins Smith Museum of Art.”

Parsons said they have gathered documents of a 2009 focus group, last year’s documents regarding murals and other cities’ approaches.

Council member Kelley Griswold of Ward 2 asked to discuss an item of the consent agenda regarding construction material testing and special inspection services for the soccer complex project. 

Griswold said he was curious about doing professional services agreements for every construction contract. 

City Manager Megan Crouch explained that it depends on the project that the City would use professional service agreements.

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“There is special inspections required by International building code that cannot be performed by our inspection services team,” Crouch said. “They have to be an independent, arms-length professional that does this.”

Crouch said TTL, Inc., the independent inspection company, will spend time on site checking different materials like the strength of steel and density of the concrete. 

The Council approved an ordinance that would move City Council meetings to an hour earlier. 

Gary Cantini, a resident who often attends City Council meetings, spoke earlier at the meeting asking the Council to reconsider the change or amend the time change by half an hour. 

Cantini said that he often sees residents coming in late to meetings, apologizing for being late and feels that the time change may not allow people who work later to attend the meetings. 

The council members expressed their reasons for being in favor of the time change with much of the reasons being that it would make it easier for people to attend and be home at a reasonable hour after the meeting. Council member Connie Fitch Taylor of Ward 1 said she has a mentally ill family member and the time change would help with taking care of her.

Council member Beth Witten of Ward 3 said that with council meetings being streamed and uploaded to YouTube that residents may still be able to attend virtually and engage with the City if they cannot attend meetings in person. 

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