The Washington Parks Department is now officially the new manager and operator of the Big Driver driving range and mini golf course.

Washington City Council members Monday night approved a lease agreement between the city and L.B. Eckelkamp Jr. and Bonnie J. Eckelkamp, who own the land Big Driver sits on. The facility is located off of Grand Avenue near Lions Lake.

Tom Dill, who has managed Big Driver for the past several years, approached the parks director and park commissioners about a month ago to see if they had an interest in running Big Driver

Dill told Parks Director Darren Dunkle that he no longer planned to operate the facility but hated to see it not being used any more.

Dunkle said the driving range and mini golf course will provide additional recreational activities for park users.

The lease agreement calls for the city to pay the Eckelkamps $1 per year. The lease can be renewed on a year-by-year basis.

“The city will be responsible for all of the operations and maintenance (of the facility),” Dunkle said.

Park crews have already started mowing the grass and preparing the facility to open, which hopefully will be by the end of May or early June, according to Dunkle.

Once it opens, the facility will have hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week through the end of October.

After that, Dunkle said park staff will make a decision to either cut back or change hours over the winter.

Dunkle said the official opening date will depend on when part-time employees are hired to work at Big Driver.

The number of applicants hired will depend on the number of hours they are willing to work and interviews.

Applications and job descriptions for the part-time positions are available at the parks office, 1220 S. Lakeshore Drive, Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, people may call the parks office at 636-390-1080.

All revenue from Big Driver will go to the city, Dunkle explained.

However, he noted that the city must purchase supplies, such as golf balls, baskets and mats, and continue maintenance of the facility.

Because the facility is opening later than normal in the season, Dunkle said he hopes the city will break even after the first year of operating Big Driver.