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Airport Authority Coming Closer to a Solution For Saving Municipal Golf Course

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LAWTON, Okla_The dilemma of how to save the Lawton Municipal Golf Course continues.

It now looks like the only way it will remain open is if the city takes over operations. The current caretakers are vacating their lease at the end of the year. The Airport Authority has a big say in the course's future, since it is right next door to the airport, and they say the biggest obstacle is water.

Barbara McNally, Director of the Lawton - Ft. Sill Regional Airport, said the Airport Authority is having trouble tackling what to do with the lake on the golf course. The lake is the only water source for the course, but the water attracts geese and other wildlife which creates a hazardous situation for planes.

"That lake is going to have to be phased out, and that's not going to happen over night, " McNally said.

The airport did have until 2019 to get rid of the lake, but because the tenants are vacating early, the FAA is pressuring them to take action now. When the lake goes, there goes the water source, and that is where the city has to decide how to pump water into the course.

McNally said, "The city has gotten a proposal from a company who is going to look at it for the city to see what it would take, first of all if it is possible to do, and then what the cost involved would be."

McNally acknowledged Muni holds a special place in many Lawtonians hearts.

"To see something like that go away over night, it's sad. So yeah there are a lot of people that have some sentimental attachment to the Municipal Golf Course. So yes we've had a lot of inquiries and a lot of 'isn't somebody going to do something?'"

Without a permanent watering source in place, she said they can't, in good faith, get involved with another tenant under those conditions. What it will come down to is making the best decision for the airport.

McNally said, "We're really gonna look to the city to decide whether they want a municipal golf course. The airport really isn't in the business of running a golf course."

The Airport Authority will meet with the mayor Thursday morning to discuss the land and the water issues. The goal is to get the topic on the agenda for the next City Council Meeting, so a vote can take place, and hopefully a decision made by the end of the year.

McNally also said the timing is right as far as golf season goes. The course will likely be closed through the winter months while the new plans are worked out.

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