Dismantling of US Open complex at Chambers Bay underway

The dismantling of the U.S. Open complex at Chambers Bay began Monday with the day lilies.

Auburn Mountainview High School horticulture teacher Regina Grubb was at the University Place golf course first thing pulling as many of the plants as she could from temporary flower beds in Spectator Square.

“They told me if we could come and pick them up, we could have them,” Grubb said as she and her daughter, Kay, crammed as many hostas, hydrangeas, lilies and other ornamentals as possible into a Toyota Prius and a Subaru Outback.

Kay Grubb pointed to a climbing hydrangea bunched into the front passenger seat of the Subaru.

“I can qualify for the HOV lane,” she joked.

All across Chambers Bay and the surrounding regional park and neighborhood, workers began the laborious task of tearing down the infrastructure used during the nation’s golf championship, which ended Sunday with a thrilling finish that saw Jordan Spieth crowned champion.

Young men swinging sledge hammers knocked down wooden railings at shuttle stops. Workers in Bobcat loaders scooped up beauty bark and dumped it into landscaping trucks. Forklift drivers loaded crates of supplies into moving vans.

And on Grandview Avenue, which has been closed to traffic since June 15, traffic flowed freely once again.

“This was an incredible experience that showcased the beauty of our region to the world,” Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said Monday. “We are working with our partners at the USGA to restore public access as quickly as possible.

“There is a lot of constructive activity on the site, so we appreciate everyone’s patience.”

Danny Sink, 2015 U.S. Open championship director for the United States Golf Association, said it will be two months or more before everything is back as it was before the event.

“We want people to understand we’re doing the best job we can of getting everything out of here,” Sink said as people streamed to a 50 percent off sale at the U.S. Open merchandise pavilion, which was open to the public Monday. “Obviously, taking everything down will take a while. It was a three-month construction project.”

Crews working for the USGA erected hundreds of tents, built gravel and paved roads, and turned the park’s Central Meadow into a town square complete with a paved courtyard and landscaping for the championship.

All that stuff must be torn out, and damage to the park repaired, Sink said.

“One of the biggest and most important things for us is to get this property put back in shape, really in better condition than when it was given to us,” he said.

Work for the rest of this week will be concentrated in the North Meadow area of Chambers Creek Regional Park and at the Chambers Bay clubhouse.

County officials hope to reopen the golf course to the general public Friday. Tee times for Friday are booked already. The pro shop and restaurant also expect to reopen then.

Sink said the USGA also is committed to getting the popular Grandview Trail, which overlooks the golf course, open as soon as possible, most likely Friday.

“We want to get our facilities out of there so people are safe,” Sink said of the Grandview Trail path. “This is a construction zone still, and it will be for the next two months.”

The East Slope Trail also should reopen Friday, the county reported in a news release.

Most other park amenities — the Soundview Trail, the Bridge to the Beach and the off-leash dog area — will reopen later this summer, the county reported.

“The Central and North meadows and the fields by the Environmental Services Building will take the longest as the grass is restored,” the news release states. “Exact dates will be announced as they become available.”

Related stories from Tacoma News Tribune