A southside church has its sights set on a 35-acre property that used to be the home of a Center Grove area golf course.
Woodside Community Church has purchased the property that used to be Walnut Ridge Golf Course, located at 1811 S. Morgantown Road. The church plans to renovate the existing buildings and open in the spring, Johnson County Planning Director David Hittle said.
The church does not have any plans to build any new facilities. The zoning allows for religious use, Hittle said.
The purchase price was not disclosed. The church is planning to spend about $200,000 on renovations, Pastor Mark Petty said.
Woodside is a North American Baptist church with about 60 members, but Petty hopes to double the membership after moving to the new location, he said.
Woodside owns its current church on Banta Road in Indianapolis and plans to sell it after moving, Petty said.
The church will use a log cabin structure at the golf course property for worship and the former pro shop building as a fellowship hall, Hittle said.
A portion of the old golf course will be turned into a foot golf, or soccer golf, course, Petty said. The church plans to keep a few holes for traditional golf open to residents.
Both the foot golf and traditional golf will be offered to residents for free, Petty said.
“Part of our goal is to connect with the community, so we are looking for creative ways to be able to do that,” Petty said.
The nearly 100-year-old church has more than doubled in membership since Petty became pastor almost 11 years ago.
The Center Grove area community and the location of the former golf course along Morgantown Road are the two primary reasons the church is moving, Petty said.
Walnut Ridge Golf Course closed in June 2013. Earlier that year, the county received complaints about large parties at the golf course.
In March 2013, shots were fired at an under-21 dance party and one person was injured.
The only possible problems on the property now are flooding issues.
The property is located in the Honey Creek floodplain, which complicates the use and development on the property but doesn’t prohibit it, Hittle said.
“It’s a done deal. We’ve been there cleaning up the property, gutting out the buildings,” Petty said.
“We already paid for the property and plan on being there in the spring ready to connect with the community.”
The church is currently collecting money for renovations through fundraisers and working on obtaining a loan or line of credit for the rest of the work, Petty said.
Petty expects some, if not most, of the renovations to be complete by the time the church opens at the new location, he said.
Petty and other church members have been working with the White River Township Fire Department and Johnson County officials reviewing the site and checking building code requirements.
Officials are pleased to see a new use for the property after two years, White River Township Fire Chief Jeremy Pell said.
“I would like to see that property get used,” Pell said.
“It’s a beautiful area and we lost a little something when that golf course closed. That place was so well-kept. So, I’m glad someone has found a use for it.”