Metropark Update: Golf Course Future, Kayaks, Bike Rental, And Rattlesnakes

Jerry Cyr, Hudson Mills Park Operations Manager, paid a visit to the Dexter Forum for the first time last Saturday. It was as though the group had been waiting for him. They had questions.

Hudson Mills Metropark was put on the agenda and Jerry was given the floor. He began with an update on the status of Hudson Mills Golf Course which was slated to be closed at one point. But in the public forums conducted by Huron-Clinton Metroparks, many people voiced their opposition to the golf course’s impending closure.

Jerry told Forum, “We had three public hearings last year with a great showing. People spoke up. There was a lot of support for the golf course and our numbers went up last year.”

The Huron-Clinton Metropark operates a total of eight golf courses throughout the park system in southeast Michigan with an opening date of March 30th weather permitting. Cyr noted how the public really showed their support for the Hudson Mills course as a result of the forums. Hudson Mills hopes to build on last year’s success. “We actually got as close as we’ve ever been to breaking even,” Jerry said. “We like our golf courses to stand alone. We heard you. We’re going full steam ahead.”

Cyr was then asked to talk about the status of the canoe livery service to the three area metroparks: Hudson Mills, Dexter-Huron, and Delhi. He began with a recap of the purchase of the property near Mill Creek Park, the site of old Mill Creek Sports Center, with the intention of turning it into a combination micro-brew pub and outdoor recreation center. “Nate (Pound) and Tyler (Soja) bought the property over there by the park,” Jerry said. “They were going through the process of creating a beer garden.”

They were also going to rent out kayaks and canoes and “needed a place to pull out their watercraft” Jerry explained. “Our previous director wanted me to start negotiations with them, which I did. We were going to charge a fee of like three dollars to pull their watercraft out of the park.”

Things took a sudden and unexpected turn when “all of a sudden our director flip-flopped and broke off negotiations with them which was unfortunate,” Jerry said, and added “Our director has since resigned. He’s no longer with us. We’re looking at new leadership going forward.”

Rather than continue pouring money into the property in the form of permits, a liquor license, and other regulatory necessities, Nate and Tyler saw an opportunity to purchase Skip’s Canoe Livery which has been doing business with the metroparks for many years. They purchased the business which will be running kayaks, inner tubes, and canoes down to Delhi Metropark from Hudson Mills.

Getting back to golf, someone wondered if “going full steam ahead” might include the addition of a driving range. Jerry explained:

“A driving range at Hudson Mills has always been problematic for us for a couple reasons: The golf course was built around a lot of wetlands. When building the golf course, for every acre of wetland you develop, you have to create two acres of wetland. Hole number three was considered wetland so you can see all that mitigation we created off to the left. So to do a driving range completely surrounded by wetland area would be very expensive.”

The other prohibitive reason for a driving range is that the massasauga rattlesnake is now federally protected and in case you didn’t know it, “we are a massasauga rattlesnake area” Jerry told the Forum. “It’s very difficult to get the permits to do any kind of new construction. I don’t think we’re ever going to be able to do any kind of driving range out there.” In lieu of a full driving range, the golf course has two hitting nets they’ll be putting up to give golfers a chance to loosen up before their rounds.

Speaking of golf carts, Hudson Mills Metropark has recently begun offering golf cart rentals for $10/hour for folks who may be experiencing some limited mobility but still want to get out into the park. Details can be explained at the park office.

Coming at some point in the future will be a connecting trail from the West River Trail (the B2B) to the golf course pathway with the intention of giving users access to the clubhouse for a drink and bite to eat. Also coming, in response to many requests, Hudson Mills will begin renting bikes again as they did years ago.

“I don’t know how soon it will all happen,” Jerry said, “but its part of the Master Plan.”

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