URBANA — In March, around 60 residents of the Stone Creek subdivision packed into the upstairs portion of Attie’s Bar and Grill for a meeting with Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman and Spencer Atkins, director of The Atkins Group, which developed the subdivision and owns the golf course within it.
There were plans to resurrect the golf course, Atkins and Whitman announced, after it had closed in January.
That was very welcome news for Ty Clapper, who built a home in the neighborhood in 2014 specifically so he could tee off multiple times a week throughout the summer.
“We were all excited,” Clapper said. “Then, there was a long time between then and today, and we hadn’t heard anything.”
The wait is now over.
On Tuesday, the Atkins Group and the UI announced that Stone Creek Golf Course would be donated to the UI athletic department, while more than 100 residential lots, 70 acres of undeveloped acreage and a “sizeable commercial parcel” would be donated to the university.
In January, when The Atkins Group had announced to homeowners that they were having exploratory talks with Applied Ecological Services, which regularly turns golf courses into wildlife reserves, some of them were anxious over the uncertainty of what would happen to the land.
“There was a lot of concern about what would happen,” homeowner Mike Davis said. “We didn’t have any set opinions about what it was going to be turned into. We were just hoping it was going to turn into something that would be usable and still an asset.”
Resident Jonathan Coppess said he enjoys living next to a golf course, even though he doesn’t golf. Like Davis, he was open to the options, but having a resolution with certainty of what the course will become was welcome.
“I think it’s great for the neighborhood,” said Coppess, who has two young children. “We like the open space. For kids, a wildlife preserve would have more use for a place to run around. But certainly, that’s going to require who’s going to own and maintain and all that. There were a lot of questions that had to be worked through for something like that.”
Stone Creek residents won’t be able to golf in their neighborhood this year as the university makes improvements to the course, including making it more difficult and suitable for college golfers.
Clapper is perfectly willing to wait.
“Everybody’s happy right now,” Clapper said. “We were concerned about property values, and (owners of) the houses that were being sold were worried about it. It’s kind of a win-win for everybody.”