Provo councilman to hold rally about possible closure of East Bay golf course 03

JD Draper, 15, and his sister, Maddie, 17, both of Lindon, practice on the putting green before a rally Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, at the East Bay Golf Course in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

They came, they talked and listened and now Wasatch Educational has provided a compromise for the golfing community concerning the proposed Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine and its future campus at the East Bay Golf Course.

Dr. Richard Nielsen, vice president of Wasatch Educational, announced Thursday evening a change to the proposal regarding the third phase of its project. The third phase originally called for purchasing 14 acres from Provo city on what is called the southern wedge of the East Bay Golf Course.

“To protect relationships, promote unity, collaboration and goodwill, we announced today — after talking to the golfing community — the request in our proposal be for the right of first refusal,” Nielsen said.

That means during the final or third phase or anytime prior, if the property is for sale, Wasatch Educational will have the first right to purchase the southern wedge.

Golfers, city council members and stakeholders at East Bay were particularly concerned about the third phase because it would eliminate East Bay’s executive course.

The company is still proposing to purchase 21 acres from the city for the first two phases of the project.

Phase one of the proposed project indicates it will be moving holes 10, 11 and 12 to a southeast area starting with 2019 construction.

The holes would be upgraded and one hole will have an island feature as part of the upgrade.

Phase two of the proposal includes relocating the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions next to the medical school in 2024.

The first phase building plan includes having green space in and around the campus. Nielsen, who visited medical schools in seven states, said Wasatch Educational is leaning towards a traditional-style building.

The final phase of Wasatch Educational’s proposed three-phase plan would have required moving additional three holes from the course, thus taking the executive course out of use.

Phase three will feature clinics, a biomedical building, a school of ophthalmology and a school of podiatry.

“We want to be good neighbors,” Nielsen said. “Bottom line, we love Provo.”

Nielsen added that Wasatch Educational anticipates there will be a need to expand in the future. This compromise will allow the city council at the time to see if they can accommodate their needs.

“Our hope is the golfers will see we’re cooperative,” Nielsen said. “We’re hoping they will embrace this construction. We hope they will recognize the benefits to the Provo community.”

“The presence of a medical school here in Utah, another one, will impact the entire western United States and it will be another solution to the shortage of physicians that has already been identified,” Nielsen said, at a Nov. 21 press conference detailing the school’s plans.

The school is named after the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation, which has put $50 million toward the project. Wasatch Educational indicates the first phase of the project will be $148 million.

Wasatch Educational will again be at a public hearing at Tuesday’s Provo Municipal Council meeting to present the project to the council and to receive comment from the public.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

A 32-year veteran of covering news in Utah County, Genelle covers Provo, Orem, Faith/Religion, including the LDS Church and general assignments.

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