To meet Federal Aviation Administration runway safety zone requirements, the Sioux Falls, S.D., course could have to cut back or cut down 190 trees near the Sioux Falls Regional Airport. The city-owned club is waiting on additional assessments to weigh its redesign options.
Elmwood Golf Course is hoping to minimize tree removal after an environmental assessment called for 190 trees at the Sioux Falls, S.D., course to be cut back or cut down to meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) runway safety zone requirements, the Argus (S.D.) Leader reported.
A new airspace study is underway to determine which trees obstruct the runway for takeoffs and landings at Sioux Falls Regional Airport. The Airport Authority Board will ultimately decide what to do before next September’s deadline and is reviewing options that would include trimming the trees and altering the course, the Leader reported.
The preferred option, which would cost $1.5 million, would modify three holes and redevelop the junior course. Another option is to conduct a major redesign of the course, at a cost of about $4.5 million. Or, the airport could use that $4.5 million to expand the runway to the north, though it would use a displaced threshold, which airport officials and the FAA try to avoid because it can cause confusion for pilots, the Leader reported.
Dan Letellier, Executive Director, said the airport is waiting for the study to reveal how many trees are a problem. He said there might be an extension on next year’s deadline to make things work if necessary.
“If we can skirt the issue and these trees are not actually causing impact to the use of the airport, possibly most can stay as is,” Letellier said. “Maybe just a handful will have to be trimmed or removed.”
Elmwood is managed by Dakota Golf and owned by the city, so officials from both groups are involved in discussions. The 27-hole course opened in 1923 and was redone in the 1960s as a result of an airport expansion. Since then, the configuration has remained the same and Dakota Golf President Tom Jansa said there are no short-term plans for remodeling and no money in the budget, the Leader reported.
“We’re trying to find a solution, and as managers and advocates for golfers, we want to make sure Elmwood is represented in the process, to where it’s accorded respect,” Jansa said. “Just as the airport is important, we understand that, we don’t want it to be unsafe. We want the airport to get what it wants, and we’re pretty positive in the end [that we’ll] have a solution that makes everybody happy.”
Tom Lien, Vice Chairman of the Airport Authority Board, said there is no desire to cut down more trees than necessary, the Leader reported.
“The airport is going to do whatever we [have to] do,” Lien said. “If we [have to] spend some money, we’d rather have Elmwood come out looking better than when we all started. It’s not their fault, it’s not our fault—it’s no one’s fault. We increased safety measures and have to deal with the aftermath and try to make everyone come out better in the long run.”
Jansa said Elmwood is known for its trees, which serve to define the fairways. If removed, the holes would need to be redone to fit the typography of the land. Previous tree trimming was limited in scope and done by the parks department, the Leader reported.
“Our thinking is rather than have an area in the golf course that has 400 to 500 trees that would have to constantly be monitored and trimmed, let’s redo and re-tree the golf course in perpetual good-neighbor relations, and never have to worry about it,” Jansa said.
The major redesign would require closing nine holes at a time for three years, Jansa said. The Airport Authority Board will continue discussing the tree issue and view additional diagrams to get a better understanding of the options, the Leader reported.