Arlington’s Chester W. Ditto Golf Course by Grace Darling

Excerpt from the February, 2017 Arlington Conservation Council Post Oak Newsletter page 12, see  http://www.acctexas.org/downloads/ACC-2017-02.pdf

ditto1We were too late to the party, they said.  The course makeover was in the works for many years and city officials had held multiple discussions about it.  We should have paid attention, they said.  We should have realized that you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs; golf courses and trees are incompatible, they said.

So, despite our letters and calls, on November 1 the Arlington City Council unanimously approved an $8.6 million construction contract for a complete course renovation at Ditto.  Financing of the renovation will come from a variety of sources, including 2008 and 2014 bond funds and debt service, according to ArlingtonGolf.com.  By early December the bulldozers moved in and overnight approximately 276 mature native trees became eggs.

Access to the site is not allowed, even for photos, except by a couple of businesses squabbling over the spoils, one for mulch and the other for firewood.  We should be glad the private sector jumped at the chance to cash in on the public wood, said one self-described environmentalist.

There was no tree inventory taken -- though one was repeatedly requested -- and we must rely on the official estimate of the number and species.  But if we use the National Tree Benefit calculator and assume a very conservative average DBH of 10 inches and a mixture of post oaks and hackberries, the calculated value of the felled trees is $19,320 annually.  At 15" DBH calculations, the ecological service value of the trees rises to $32,292; at 20" DBH, it's a whopping $45,816 per year.  Every year from now on, because those trees are gone forever.  No matter how you look at it, this is a tremendous loss to the community.

The go-ahead from council stopped short of the clubhouse, the plan for which was too pricey and must be scaled down, APRD was told.  "Final decisions on the clubhouse plans and budget are expected to be finalized later this spring," says the city's website.  Given that an upscale clubhouse is a key element in the eventual success of Ditto as a worthy competitor for the golfing elite with Euless's Texas Star, we hope the clubhouse design will be approved as is or all those trees will have been sacrificed for nothing.

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