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After push from residents, part of former Lambert’s Point Golf Course opens to public

Brian Friedman and his dog Sky stand by the new public open space at the former Lambert's Point Golf Course on Monday, April 15. (Photo by Katherine Hafner)
Brian Friedman and his dog Sky stand by the new public open space at the former Lambert's Point Golf Course on Monday, April 15. (Photo by Katherine Hafner)

Larchmont resident Brian Friedman loved walking through the Lambert’s Point Golf Course over the years, taking in the river views with his husky dog, Sky, or sledding down the hills on snow days when his twin sons were young. 

It’s one of the last public waterfront properties in Norfolk, which is about 90% developed.    

Friedman wants this piece of land to remain green. His passion for the concept led him last year to help create the Lambert’s Point City Park Steering Committee. 

“I’ve always thought about it as parkland,” Friedman said, “because of its access to the river and because of the limited amount of green space that’s in the city’s inventory.”

The golf course officially closed last year when the Hampton Roads Sanitation District took over most of the land, which it plans to use for an expansion of a program that turns sewage into drinking water.

But about 15 acres remain with the city and are worth more than $10 million, according to property records.

Friedman’s group has tirelessly pushed the city to conserve the acreage for residents.  

And they recently won a victory. Norfolk put up signage last week denoting the section as public open space, replacing some no trespassing signs.

“What’s not to like about a city park?” Friedman said Monday, standing by the sign. “It’s really quite a nice destination.”

The public golf course, just west of Old Dominion University, opened in 2005. The city sold 40 acres of it to HRSD in 2018 but the District didn’t take possession until last year.  

Fences and survey markers have slowly gone up around parts of the HRSD-owned sections.

Meanwhile, Friedman and others fought to turn the city-owned acreage into a permanent park. 

“Our folks want to get out there and they want to have a place to get away from just the noise of the city,” Liz Paiste, another member of the committee, previously told WHRO. 

Their online petition gathered nearly 2,500 signatures. The committee showed up to civic league meetings around the area, asking for their support, and the city held a packed public forum about the future of the space. 

Earlier this year, the city agreed the golf course land should remain publicly accessible, though City Council still has final say on land use.

Norfolk’s recent budget proposal includes $31,000 for “passive recreation space” at Lambert’s Point, including signs, waste disposal and landscaping.

The site was built on an old landfill, which limits the type of development that can happen there, officials say.

But residents now worry that some of the new park will go to ODU.

Norfolk has had informal conversations with the university about some future golf use, according to city spokesperson Kelly Straub.

The city has not made a final decision on the future of the entire 15 acres, she said in an email.

“The City could explore many options for use of the clubhouse and continues to remain open to suggestions,” Straub wrote.

Friedman hopes officials can work it out soon so residents know what to expect. His committee is now seeking nonprofit status so they can apply for grants to help install amenities or host events at the new park. 

In addition to the city’s 15 acres, about half of HRSD’s land will be available to the public while officials work on site plans. A narrow strip of shoreline around the entire property also remains public, allowing people to walk along the river.

Katherine is WHRO’s climate and environment reporter. She came to WHRO from the Virginian-Pilot in 2022. Katherine is a California native who now lives in Norfolk and welcomes book recommendations, fun science facts and of course interesting environmental news.

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