Thanksgiving Point says “no” to road through golf course, Lehi loses millions
Lehi City engineers came close to getting final approval and funding for a road connecting Clubhouse Drive in Thanksgiving Point to 3600 West, but the objections of residents and the withdrawal of support by the owners Thanksgiving Point Golf Course derailed the project.
The Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) is a committee made up of all the mayors in Utah County. They select and fund regional transportation projects for communities in the Provo/Orem urban area. Each year there is a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) project selection process. City engineers must submit project draft concepts that are due months before the vote takes place, and the drafts have to be approved by MAG’s engineers as well. The Clubhouse Drive/3600 West Road Connection proposed by Lehi City Engineers represented their solution to the critical roadway connection between the Thanksgiving Point area across the Jordan River going west. Phase one of the construction project proposed to extend a two-lane roadway from the intersection of Garden Drive and Clubhouse Drive, westward along the north side of the Thanksgiving Point Golf Course Clubhouse, then proceeding westward across the Jordan River, through the golf course and connecting to 3600 West.
According to the Project Summary Information submitted by Lehi City to MAG, the owners of the Thanksgiving Point Golf Course “are in support of exploring creative ways to provide alternatives for traffic on both sides of the river even though the concept plan will result in the extension of a roadway through their golf course.” Before the August 1 vote took place, however, representatives from the Thanksgiving Point Golf Course withdrew their support. In a letter to MAG and residents of Thanksgiving Village from Dave Harkness, President of Beesmark Investments, the family office of Alan and Karen Ashton, founders of Thanksgiving Point Institute, Harkness said, “Alan and Karen Ashton do not support the proposed Clubhouse Drive Extension Project. We believe other alternatives exist. The proposed road would divide the golf course and significantly impact the green space at Thanksgiving Point.”
Each member of MAG received a packet prior to the vote containing project summaries, maps, public input, and technical information and approvals. The Clubhouse Drive project came with more than two dozen handwritten letters from Lehi residents of Thanksgiving Village vehemently opposed to the new road. “We can make more roads, but if we lose the golf course, we will lose something that will be difficult to replace. We need Lehi to be recognized as a place where quality of life is important in order to attract quality residents. Don’t be short-sighted and ruin a championship golf course in order to build a road that will only bring more cars to an area that is way overcrowded to begin with,” wrote Judy Kilgore. “The Thanksgiving Point area is a special community. We treasure the beautiful green surroundings. We must leave a space for the Ashton Gardens and surrounding areas to continue to exist as it is. Please think creatively – we can solve this!” wrote Darlene and William Van Werkhoven.
“It didn’t seem like the Clubhouse Drive project had any support,” said one south county mayor of the final MAG vote. “I wanted to make sure my vote was going toward something that was wanted and needed, especially since it meant putting funding for projects closer to home on the back burner.” Since the Clubhouse Drive/3600 West Road Connection was voted down, the $9.1 million that would have gone to it was distributed among other construction projects in Utah County.
“We don’t have a backup concept for that east/west connection. It’s disappointing to get so close, to have the technical approval and the money that we needed, and to be back to square one,” said Kim Struthers, Community Development Director for Lehi City.