The town has hired a consultant to study whether a historic African-American golf course could become a park, according to a document obtained by the Garner-Cleveland Record.
Mayor Ronnie Williams confirmed that the town has re-entered discussions with St. Augustine’s University, who owns Meadowbrook Country Club, about purchasing the property off White Oak Road.
“We have a great need for practice fields and playing fields for soccer and baseball,” Williams said. “More than likely if we purchase the property we’d have to develop it a little bit.”
Williams declined to cite the price tag on the 120-acre country club or whether an offer has been made to St. Augustine’s University.
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Efforts to reach St. Augustine’s president Everette Ward were unsuccessful.
St. Augustine’s had previously reached out to the town earlier this year, but the town turned down their offer. A spokesperson for the school had previously said that the school would not sell the country club.
Less than a mile from White Oak Shopping Center, where commercial growth has picked up exponentially, the Town of Garner has been looking at that area for future growth.
Meadowbrook is outside of the town limits and does not have municipal water and sewer service. It currently runs on wells and septic and tanks.
Meadowbrook was founded in 1958 and was said to be the first black-owned country club in the Triangle. Some claim it was first in the country. At that time black people were not allowed to play on quality golf courses that were white-owned. So a group of black men wanting to play golf decided to create their own course.
Existing members, a staff person, course players and volunteers say during the country club’s early years, the only black people who were allowed were teachers, lawyers and doctors – those who made the most money.
Eventually, they say, it opened up to blacks of all socio-economic statuses.
And soon it became a popular place where the all men could golf, the families could cook out, kids could swim, play putt-putt and have a good time.
But over the years, since integration when blacks were allowed to join country clubs owned by whites, memberships to the country club dropped. As a result, the golf-course’s greens turned into brown rough, and the bunkers became filled with weeds.
St. Augustine’s bought the course in 2007. The previous owners wanted to keep it in black-owned hands. But it appears the course has been difficult to keep up.
Today, the course is open for anyone to golf. Volunteers help out and keep up the course, along with staff member Robert Hinton, St. Augustine’s golf coach.
According to an email to town staff, the research and planning for the course will cost about $5,000.
Since May 20, the town council has met in closed-session three times, each lasting for an hour or longer.