Oro Valley to debate the fate of town-owned courses in special meeting

Golf courses turned into open space

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Tom Smith of Oro Valley has played golf all over the world, and has played golf in southern Arizona for 4 decades.

But he refuses to play at Oro Valley's town owned courses, saying he was never in favor of the council move to purchase the property in 2014.

“I’ve played them all,” Smith said. “I don’t think the city should be involved in golf course management or ownership at all.”

He’s not alone. Members of the current council ran on a platform to do something about it, and Wednesday night, July 24 a special council meeting will be held to decide what to do with the property.

The council has laid out several options - either keep all 36 holes, reduce the number of holes to 27 or 18 holes, or completely abandon golf all together. Proposed uses for the land include turning it into parks or a natural area.

“I voted for a community and recreation center, and everybody else was arguing about golf,” former Vice Mayor, Lou Waters said. Waters was part of the council that made the decision to purchase the courses, valued at over $40 million, for $1 million in 2014. He says the $2 million a year to keep the amenities open is paid for, and points out any chance won’t be cheap.

“It costs a lot to restore the land,” said Waters. The golf courses cover more than 360 acres of land. “You can’t just say okay it’ll be a park. You have to make it a park.”

Waters says the idea of scrapping the courses has been floated since they bought the land, and doesn't see any movement on the issue anytime soon.

“Are they going to close it down? My guess, no way. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said Waters.

The special council meeting will be begin on Wednesday, July 24 at 6 p.m. at the Church of Nazarene at 500 W. Calle Concordia.

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