TEED OFF: Oro Valley to pay for study before decision on town-owned golf courses

TEED OFF: Oro Valley to pay for study before decision on town-owned golf courses
The council has laid out several options for the town-owned golf courses. Most residents don't want to see any change.

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The conversation over town-owned golf courses in Oro Valley is over, for now.

Late Wednesday night, many community members thought they would get what they wanted at the Town Council meeting when council member Steve Solomon proposed a motion to continue operation of the El Conquistador Golf Club 36-holes, as is. But, Vice Mayor Melanie Barrett then filed a motion to table that discussion, which passed.

It will now be up to the Mayor and Council to determine how to move forward.

The council also voted to pay a landscape firm to study the operations of the course.

Those decisions came after hours of public comment and discussion at ghd special Town Council meeting.

“I think they should leave everything alone and the Mayor should pack up and move out of town," said George Hayduke, Jr., an Oro Valley resident and real estate broker said to KOLD News 13 before he snagged a seat in the crowded council chambers.

The town purchased the El Conquistador Golf Club in 2014 for $1 million. In the last five years, it has cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

“Scottsdale is to Phoenix as Oro Valley is to Tucson. Case closed," said Hayduke. "Everybody in the winter time goes to Tucson, no they come right here.”

The council has laid out several options:

  • 36-Hole Option without reconfiguration of holes
  • 27-Hole Option with reconfiguration as presented in 2017 Consultants Report
  • 18-Hole Option with no specific hole configuration/design assumed
  • No Golf Option with assumption that all discontinued golf holes are converted to natural open space and/or public park space compatible with a resort type use

After hours of public comment Wednesday, the support in the room to keep the courses open, as is, was the common end to the conversation.

While many think Mayor Joe Winfield has made up his mind, the mayor told KOLD News 13 that is not the case.

“I have tried to keep an open mind in listening and continuing to learn about the nuances of the different options," said Winfied.

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

Nearly all residents who addressed council members shared the same concern over their property values.

“The master association got an appraisal that says the houses will devalue between $30,000 to $75,000 per house," said Hayduke. “The devaluation of the whole area is the scary part of it. The estimates is the taxes, the property values could go down by two-, three-hundred million dollars.”

That possibility of a closure if hitting home sales now, Hayduke said.

“You have to fill out the seller property disclosure statement. If I list your house for $400,00 today and I got a buyer, he’s going to say 'Why would I pay $400,000 if you’re going to lose the golf course? I’ll give you $300,000 or I’ll wait until a foreclosure happens," said Hayduke.

But, the Mayor Winfield said losing the green wouldn’t have that big of an impact.

“Many people buy a lot that is adjacent to open space or has a view of the mountains, they pay a premium," said Winfield. "I think we’re certainly mindful of the property values, but the open space views all help contribute to property values.”

[ Golder Ranch Fire Chief shares concerns over fire danger with course closure ]

Is there a fairway to move forward?

The next Oro Valley Town Council meeting is schedule for Wednesday, September 4, 2019.

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