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Long Live Mick Riley Golf Course!

Good news for Mick Riley Golf Course!

It is now a full-fledged Salt Lake County golf course and its future is safe and secure.

For the past three years its future has been in limbo while Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County worked out the wrinkles of its origination in 1962. It took some creative planning and governmental cooperation to give birth to the golf course back in 1962.

The county owned the land where the current entry and clubhouse sits, but Salt Lake City owned the rest of the land which consists of a large underground aquifer and is a significant water source for the city.

Visionary leaders in 1962 wanted to make use of the land atop the aquifer and a golf course seemed like a good option. The county took the lead of ownership of the course and signed a 50-year lease with Salt Lake City for the surface rights above the aquifer. It was a beautiful example of cooperation between the two governments, and 50 years seemed like an eternity.

The county built a very functional nine-hole golf course and an adjacent par three course, a driving range and clubhouse and it has been a very popular facility, especially so for beginning golfers and seniors and women. It has served as a feeder course to all the other golf courses in the valley. It is where many golfers first learned the game.

But 50 years was not an eternity and in 2012 the lease was up. The course was in need of some major upgrades and the county was reluctant to make any improvements on land that it didn’t own and a lease that was expiring. Thus the lease and the unsureness of renewal agreements had effectively stymied needed upgrades.

For the past three years Mick Riley has been operating without a lease renewal and the closure of the course has been a realistic possibility.

That quandary was solved this past week when Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County agreed to a land swap that gives ownership of the land to the County and Salt Lake City an easement to access its aquifer. The specific land involved in the swap cannot be readily identified as the negotiations involved other parcels. The Mick Riley property was just one of several parcels involved in the swap.

While the process was slow, it happened, and now the citizens of the valley are once again the beneficiaries of two government entities coming together for the common good.

Jerry Brewster, Director of Golf for Salt Lake County, said,  “It’s a big deal for Utah golf. Mick Riley is an important feeder course for the valley and we will take advantage of this opportunity. We will begin making improvements at Mick Riley as soon as possible,” he said.

“Mayor McAdams and Erin Litvak and the Salt Lake City negotiators deserve our thanks,” he said. “This is great news!”