Plans for creating an 18-hole golf course in South Buffalo took a step forward, but whether the proposed course is ever built remains an open-ended question.
The Buffalo Urban Development Corp. directors approved hiring a team led by Wendel to conduct a feasibility study covering whether the proposed golf course should be built. The Amherst-based Wendel was the lowest of 16 bids submitted to BUDC last month.
The firm will be paid $290,000 for the study, which is being funded through a New York State Department of State grant.
The study will cover a myriad of issues including environmental concerns as well as the financial feasibility of taking on the course. It may also recommend other uses for the land should a golf course be deemed either too expensive or otherwise not feasible to develop on the site.
"We are not locked into making this work," said Andrew Rudnick, Buffalo Niagara Partnership president and CEO and a BUDC director.
Officials are looking at a 200-acre site just off of Tifft Street and in the heart of the larger 2,000-acre South Buffalo Brownfield Opportunity Area as the possible location for the course. The course would replace the cramped, nine-hole public South Buffalo Golf Course.
A one-time landfill site, portions of which are privately owned and also owned by the City of Buffalo, the land has been remediated.
"This isn't just an economic development issue, but a quality of life one," said John Fell, a senior planner with the Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning.
Talk of developing a new South Buffalo public course has been working its way through Buffalo City Hall since the 1990s. The hiring of Wendel marks the furthest the discussions have ever gone.
But, whether the course is actually developed remains to be seen.
"There are many nuisances to consider," said David Stebbins, BUDC vice president. "This is not a black and white, build it or not, issue."
Among the issues to be resolved is who would run and manage the course and whether it could finish each year at a financially break even or in-the-black status.
"This has got to be revenue neutral or, even better, revenue positive," Stebbins said.
The Wendel study should be ready next spring.
Besides awarding the Wendel bid, the BUDC directors also awarded a bid to LaBella Associates to review the condition of four parcels along Fuhrmann Boulevard that were once owned by the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
The parcels, if they pass the environmental review, may be turned over to the Tifft Farm Nature Preserve.
LaBella was the lowest nine bids submitted for the work. The firm will be paid $4,500 for the study.