Ely Park

Ely Park

CLOSE to HEAVEN, Golfing Atop Mount Prospect

The History of Ely Park Municipal Golf Course, Binghamton, New York.

Back in January 2003 I was looking at some old family pictures with my brother Larry. One was of our father standing on the eleva ted No. 2 tee at Ely Park. Behind him down below was the old clubhouse with cars parked in what is now the No. 3 fairway. I recalled my youthful days walking up that fairway hearing cinders grinding beneath my feet. Immediately I realized that the cinders were from that old parking lot in the picture. That feeling of connection with the past star ted my journey down the road to learning all I could about Ely Park. I want to write the history of Ely Park as a tribute to every person, including my father, who was a part of Ely Park and knew of its special mystique.

There is a special mystique about Ely Park. It begins with the mountaintop land and the beautiful views of the Chenango and Susquehanna valleys. Its namesake—S. Mills Ely was a wholesale grocer in Binghamton who dona ted the land to the city in 1907. Do you know about the Ely Tower? How about the remnants of park benches near No. 8 green where people use to sit and look out over the Chenango valley? Can you find the old No. 5 tee to the par 4 584-yard hole that went down to the reservoir? Have you played Ely Park lately? If not, do so this year and make it extra special by thinking about its history as you play the golf course.

We have celebra ted Ely Park’s history on two occasions to date. In September 2003 we recognized Mike Popik, Steve Vaskovic Sr. and Al Morley for their contributions to Ely Park. In May 2004 we recognized Walt Kozak, Bert Kollar, and Ernie Smith. Send me a note if you want to be contac ted for the next Ely Celebration in 2005. If you have ideas or want to help organized future Ely Celebrations please contact me.

I need your help to complete my task. I do not know all the elements of Ely Park’s history. Especially needed are early photographs, records of tournaments especially women and men club champions, information on S. Mills Ely, Ernie Smith, Edward Prentice and any type of memorabilia associa ted with the golf course, the land or the people. Please search your closets, attics and basements and contact me with any information you may have. I will reimburse you for copying and shipping charges. Thank you!

Please consider getting involved with searching and defining the history of Ely Park. I can not tell you how rewarding it has been for me these past two years.

For one thing I unexpec tedly heard many new stories about my father which made me feel good. Researching S. Mills Ely and the history of the land with Gerry Smith, the Broome County Historian and his staff was very interesting. Have you visi ted the Local History & Genealogy Center at the Broome County Library?

Having Ray Linsky give me a tour of the park area was exhilarating. Finding the old benches and being there in a sense with the folks from the early 1900s made me appreciate the gift of S. Mills Ely even more than ever. There are other aspects of the Ely Park history that will be revealed once the book is published including one connection I discovered that was lost in the almost 100 years of city ownership.

Over the last two years many people have come forward and helped me to assemble a good amount of information. Special thanks to Ed Aswad, Dick Donovan, Betty & Joe Hidock Jr., Joey Hidock, Bob Kollar, Juan Linsky, Ray Linsky, Rick Mauro, Joyce Mezzadonna, Joan & Al Morley, Bud Penfield, John Petrikonis, Mike Popik, Larry Reistetter, Jimmy Seager, Ronnie Simkulet, Gerry Smith, Walter Smith, Bob Steiner, Brian Stiles, Geoff Urda, Al Vaskovic, Steve Vaskovic Jr., Steve Vaskovic Sr., Mokey Whalen, Mark Zulick, and everyone else that has helped me to date.