Andover’s only golf course, closed since 2008, will soon be restored as a wetland and grassland area.

When the Woodland Creek course went out of business, the city purchased the property with the hope of preserving it and turning it into what it used to be. The city sold a small piece of the land to a developer, who will build six single-family homes later this year.

Andover officials are working with the state’s Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) to conserve 64.3 acres of the golf course. The wetland and grassland restoration work will begin later this year and continue for the next few years.

“What the city is trying to do is take a piece of property that’s basically blithe and restore it back to its original condition, which is an amenity to the city instead of a nuisance,” said David Berkowitz, city engineer and public works director.

The BWSR is securing a permanent conservation easement for the land — meaning it will always remain a conservation area. The board is directed by the state Legislature to offset wetland losses due to road projects by restoring properties elsewhere. The Andover restoration is one of those projects.

Under the terms of the plan, Andover will maintain the property once the work is completed.

The land, originally a wetland, was turned into a sod farm about five decades ago, and it became the golf course in 1991.

The ground has been through so much change, said Ken Powell, BWSR wetland banking coordinator.

Before the area was a golf course it was a “wet meadow,” he said. It was flat and grassy and had trees.

“The landscape has been altered enough that we can’t bring it back to its original condition,” Powell said, but the plan will restore it to as close to what it was as possible.

Powell said the project will begin with eliminating all of the invasive species in the area.

The BWSR will also partly fill ponds that were once excavated “to create a more shallow wetland area, instead of just an open pond,” Powell said.

Once that work is completed, the BWSR will reseed with native vegetation.

A small trail will also be added to give residents access to the nature area, Powell said.

The hope is that schools and others will take advantage “and see nature, so to speak,” he said.

The old clubhouse and parking lot, just north of the golf course, will be part of the small housing development, Berkowitz said. Construction of the six single-family homes is expected to begin later this year.

Bids for the restoration project have not been solicited yet, but Powell estimates the project will cost about $700,000.

Tom Wenzel, senior water resources engineer at BWSR, said the work could take a few years from site preparation to managing the vegetation.

“The goal is to get it back to what it used to be,” Wenzel said. “In this case, we are making do with what we have out there and doing our best attempt to restore the wetlands.”


Twitter: @KarenAnelZamora