Gates Park Golf Course

Gates Park Golf Course

WATERLOO — A conceptual plan to reuse the former Chamberlain Manufacturing Corp. site would reconfigure the Gates Park golf course.

But the idea prepared by the HR Green consulting firm got a chilly reception from the city’s Leisure Services Commission and a handful of residents who turned out for an informational meeting Tuesday.

“I don’t particularly care for any of those things that affect Gates Park,” said Jim Reidy, who attended the gathering.

The city is working with the Johnston-based consultant to develop plans to reuse the environmentally contaminated 23-acre Chamberlain site abutting Gates Park at East Fourth and Esther streets.

Three conceptual designs presented at this week’s meeting essentially reconfigure the Gates Park golf course, adding new holes on the Chamberlain site while removing existing holes and the driving range to allow for housing development around the course.

Members of the Leisure Services Commission, which oversees the golf course, were concerned about those changes.

“We understand that any housing around the golf course would likely be future customers of ours,” said J.B. Bolger, the golf coordinator. “We’re supportive of adding houses around Gates golf course, we just don’t want to carve up the beloved golf course as it is now.”

Gates golf pro Nate Lubs was concerned the plans would eliminate the driving range and overflow parking lots while hurting the “character and consistency of the golf course.”

“This is just a starting point,” replied Chris Western, the city’s brownfield coordinator. “We just want to get the conversation started.

“Getting the (Chamberlain) buildings demolished was the easy part,” he added. “Trying to figure out what to do with the site is a little bit more difficult.”

The Environmental Protection Agency is working with Chamberlain Manufacturing, now a division of Duchossois Industries Inc. of Elmhurst, Ill., to clean up chemical contamination on the site.

Mayor Quentin Hart emphasized the contamination will be cleaned up.

“There is an obligation, there is a relationship with EPA and the company that the ground is going to be taken care of,” he said. “The ground will be safe as it can be.”

Hart said this week’s meeting was “about reinvestment.”

“It’s about making that neighborhood better,” he said. “It’s about the vision that we have for tomorrow.”

HR Green planned to take comments from the meeting and adjust the conceptual plans accordingly.

Chamberlain Manufacturing, a former defense contractor, operated from 1919 until closing in 1994. The city acquired the property in 2005 and worked with EPA to demolish the buildings and test for environmental contamination. The EPA approved Chamberlain’s final design Aug. 1.

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