Save Rackham! Er, Rackham Saved!
I just got back from a four mile run which started off @ 310 W. 6th St., went past Pronto!, across Woodward into Huntington Woods past the Detroit Zoo and Rackham Golf Course (check out the route here). Particularly averse to the cold this year, I’ve been getting most of my winter running in on the treadmills over at Fitness Unlimited. But today, it was finally sunny enough to lace up the running shoes and head out.
I quickly remembered how much I love to run through Huntington Woods’ quiet, tree-lined streets. One thing that I did not notice this time, though, were the formerly-ubiquitous “SAVE RACKHAM!” signs in the front lawns of many of the tidy homes. Last spring, as a relative newbie to Southeast Michigan, I read the signs with some curiosity, wondering, “Who is this Rackham kid that got locked up? I’ll have to look into it . . . .” After musing about whether there really could be a political prisoner locked up somewhere in Huntington Woods, I’d usually forget, only to notice the signs again on a run a few days later. It turns out that in the headier days of high real estate values just a short few years ago, this Golf Course designed by Donald Ross eighty years ago became the center of a bitter dispute between its users and neighbors in Huntington Woods and the City of Detroit which wanted to sell it to a developer for residential development.
More on this feud — and the final resolution — after the jump.
In 1924 Horace and Mary Rackham donated the golf course to Detroit. The donation included a deed restriction that would give the course back to the Rackhams’ heirs if the property was used for anything other than a golf course. In 2006, Huntington Woods discovered that the City of Detroit was trying to sell the golf course to a private developer and this galvanized a movement within H.W. to “SAVE RACKHAM!”
The issue was the subject of a 0.5 mill tax in Huntington Woods to support litigation and the case was litigated . . . all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court. The result:
The Michigan Supreme Court [on February 5, 2009] let stand a state Court of Appeals ruling last year that the deed to the 120-acre golf course property prevents it from being used for anything other than a golf course. –Daily Tribune
“Rackham will remain a golf course,” February 8, Daily Tribune.