Posted: February 26, 2015 1:14 am
Plans to use the Goat Path for parking at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament this summer have been scuttled.
Officials planning the U.S. Golf Association tournament, scheduled for July 6-12 at Lancaster Country Club in Manheim Township, said parking will be off-site, with shuttles delivering spectators to the golf course from local facilities, such as churches and commercial centers, that have big lots.
When tournament organizers looked at the Goat Path, USGA Championship director Barry Deach said, they just couldn’t get past one fatal flaw.
“In the end, it’s a grass field,” he said. “If the weather’s bad, that could be a real mess.”
The Goat Path is a partially improved swath of land stretching from the Route 30 interchange at Walnut Street east to Leola. It was built to be the foundation for a Route 23 bypass, which was never constructed.
It borders the east side of Lancaster Country Club, and initially was viewed as a place to provide on-site parking for the 75,000-100,000 spectators expected over the course of the week-long event.
(The busiest weekend days could draw 25,000.)
On-site parking is a novelty atypical of U.S. Open tournaments. The possibility of it here initially tickled tournament organizers and country club officials, who envisioned spectators parking their cars and walking onto the course.
“There’s a lot of space overall, and the parking situation appears to be exceptional,” USGA Senior Director Tim Flaherty said last summer.
“We won’t have to do any shuttling, and that’s very unusual.’’
And PennDOT, which owns the Goat Path right-of-way, was offering up its use to the tournament for $1.
But Deach said that when organizers actually sat down and looked at the site, they saw problems.
Parking on grass on a rainy day was the most glaring issue.
Also, they didn’t like the idea of a single point of access. Cars would have gone in and out of the parking area solely from the Route 30 West off-ramp at Walnut Street.
“From a safety and security standpoint, we have to consider evacuating the site in an emergency,” Deach said. “That one access point could have been a problem.”
Also, he said, organizers wondered if Route 30, itself, would have become a parking lot as cars streamed in to the site.
“How much stacking would there be as they tried to get in?” he said.
PennDOT spokesman Greg Penny said his agency was notified by tournament organizers late last year that the Goat Path will not be needed for the Women’s Open.
Current plans call for parking at multiple lots within about five miles of the country club, Deach said.
The USGA has reached no agreements with anyone for parking, but Deach confirmed that he has had discussions with representatives from Burle Business Park, 1000 New Holland Ave.; Calvary Church, 1051 Landis Valley Road; Park City Center, 142 Park City Center; and Lancaster Bible College, 901 Eden Road.
John Zeswitz, executive vice president of the Bible College, said he thinks the school can make 300 spaces available to the USGA.
That would still leave parking for the college’s summer programs.
“We are certainly open to helping them,” Zeswitz said. “We think the (USGA) coming to Lancaster County is a great thing.”
Althea Ramsay-Carrigan, vice-president of Burle, said her organization is still in the exploratory phase.
“We have had contact with (USGA), and everything is good from our end and from their end,” she said. “We have agreed to meet with them again to discuss this.”
At Calvary, the parking issue is slated to be the subject of discussion by church leaders at a meeting in the near future, according to facilities director Jonathan Frank.
A Park City spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
Details to iron out
How much parking there will be, where it will be located, the number of shuttles that will be needed and a traffic plan for moving spectators to and from the parking facilities and the golf course all are details that have not yet been ironed out, according to Deach.
He expects to finalize those plans within the next few weeks and present them to the USGA in March.
Then, Deach and other tournament officials will pitch the plans to residents who live around the country club.
“We want to get feedback from the people who will be affected most,” he said.
Logistically, Deach admitted there is much more involved by having off-site parking.
But from a security standpoint, it makes more sense.
“We can evacuate the site in a much more organized fashion if we have to,” he said.
Also, Deach says he can provide more parking off-site than he could on the Goat Path.
That’s important, because early indicators point to this year’s Women’s Open drawing a huge crowd.
“This is not going to be a typical Open,” he said. “It’s looking like this is going to be a very large event.”
Deach declined to discuss numbers, but said early ticket sales last year were very strong.
Currently, tickets cannot be purchased.
Deach said he expects sales to be opened to the public again in early April.