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Part of our historical legacy in danger

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One of the oldest golf courses in the United States is on the market for either full sale or division into three sections. This course was established in 1897, over 115 years ago, and is Ives Hill, located in the city and town of Watertown. A sale retaining the property as an 18-hole, 135-acre golf course will be most positive for this community. Separation into parcels for other development will be an incredible loss for the city, town, county and its residents.

Ives Hill has a proud history that goes beyond the game of golf as it is a part of this area’s development, recreational opportunities and contributes to the quality of life for its citizens. The clubhouses were used for a multitude of social events, civic functions, celebrations and special gatherings. The course itself, as green space, provides beauty and much pleasure to those already living in, or coming to, the area. Ives Hill is a valuable community resource that is much more than real estate and may be enhanced with potential, additional activities for the benefit of all.

Financial considerations were a part of Ives and continue to be so today. Initially private citizens were in the lead, but others involved in operating and updating the course over the years include a local bank holding stock, a set of select members and more recently two owners. Ives Hill has always functioned as an independent entity. Although the course and facilities have been used by many in the area, it has not received any special benefits, acreage leases or tax reductions from the city or town of Watertown or county as have some other recreational facilities and locations.

The city and town of Watertown and Jefferson County are facing the potential loss of a valuable asset. It is time for many to come together to address the presenting issues, consider a response plan, take actions and forge a private-public partnership to maintain this valued resource for posterity. Small groups have formed and others will be asked or are welcome to join and be a part of efforts. If this does not occur, Ives Hill may be gone, and once it is gone, it is gone forever. This outcome would be another regrettable loss of a local icon.

As paraphrased from an Ives Hill Centennial publication, “Some people make things happen, some let things happen.” Locally many have and will again be asked to make things happen for this and the next 115 years of Ives Hill.

Lanie M. Gerken

Watertown

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