In 2003, the Metroparks spent $4 million to acquire land in Brookside and Washington Reservation. But rather than convert the land into canal-side trails or carve out baseball diamonds, officials decided to turn the 70-acre Washington Park land, located in Newburg Heights, into a public golf course.
Financially speaking, it wasn’t the best bet. Records dating from 1990 show that public courses in Cleveland have lost more than $2.8 million. Why would the Metroparks want to open up another failing golf course?
Thank IMG, the Cleveland talent agency. Two years ago, the Metroparks – in a private meeting – made a deal with the talent agency to design the new course, to be called the Leonard Krieger Golf Course. Plans for the site included a 30-station driving range, putting greens, and short green practice area. A $2.5 million golf education center was also built, courtesy of First Tee Cleveland – whose board president just happens to be a prominent member of IMG. And because Metropark authorities are so generous with tax money, they volunteered to pay for all operating costs.
Metropark officials defended the deal. “We’re not in the business to make money,” says Treasurer Bob Miller.
The course was completed last year. The Audubon Society even gave it a gold certificate of approval for being environmentally conscious. That’s the funniest thing about today’s adventure, since the course is named after Leonard Krieger. The former owner of Jennison Wright operated a plant in Granite City, Illinois that treated railroad ties and wood blocks. The plant, now vacant, just happens to be on the Superfund List, due to the numerous contaminants Krieger dumped in the soil – and never bothered to clean up. -- Rebecca Meiser