Neighbors concerned, upset over some work at Blacksburg Town Golf Course

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Blacksburg's Town Municipal Golf Course had been closed for just over two weeks. But people living near the course were just voicing their concerns Monday night that they are upset about some of that work.

Those who were there said it was the first time they had been able to ask questions or raise concerns.

The town admitted there were no other meetings specifically about the course, but there were public comment opportunities during the budget meetings earlier this year.

The biggest controversy raised at Monday's meeting was over trees that have been marked to come down.

Large oak trees will be reviewed, but as of Monday, the white pine trees will not, and people are on the fence about the issue.

Jana Ruble who lives near the course and walks the area regularly said, "The white pines can live to be hundred of years old, they're very valuable tree, I do know that they're one of our own few native conifers, and I would like to see those protected as well."

However Byron Shankman, who moved to the area just to become a member of the golf club said, "One of our big problems with our greens right now is the trees are so close to the greens that the roots grow under the green, and then the greens crack up and they're not worth anything and it's utilitarian to get rid of those trees."

Blacksburg Deputy Town Manager Chris Lawrence ran Monday's meeting and answered many of the concerns.

He said after the meeting, "The white pines, if that's something that we need to look further into, we'll do that. But by and large, the trees we're focused on really [surround] playablility and and a healthful situation on the course."

Other issues include balls hitting houses or cars and people wanting to use the course to walk around on safely. The town said it's a golf course, so there are inherent risks.

Another issue brought up by neighbors is the use of "Roundup" on the course and not notifying people about it.

The World Health Organization said they possibly linked an ingredient in the weed-killer to cancer.

Hilary Byron lives across the street from the golf course and said she could smell it in her home for more than a week.

"We have small pets, we have the elderly visiting us, and it's very disconcerting that we, likely, have a mist of pesticides inside our house."

Lawrence responded to the concern, "We are licensed by the state, we follow all practices that are best management practices and only use it in the areas that were required."

He said he believes Blacksburg used the weed-killer safely.

The course has been approved to be renovated for $850,000 and will be done by the same Richmond firm that did Roanoke's Ballyhack Golf Club and the Greenbrier in West Virginia.

Town Council will meet in a Work Session on August 1, and the issues discussed Monday are expected to be brought up.