Oro Valley to keep town-owned golf courses open

Town purchased club five years ago for $1 million
The fate of the town-owned golf courses in Oro Valley has finally been decided.
Updated: Oct. 2, 2019 at 10:39 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The fate of the town-owned golf courses in Oro Valley has finally been decided.

The town council voted 6-1 Wednesday, Oct. 2, to keep the 36 holes at town-owned courses, El Conquistador and La Cañada, operational.

“It creates great value for us, it encourages tourism and new business and it’s just a pleasure to have the community center. It’s the heart of this town," said Jane Shurtleff, an Oro Valley resident.

Oro Valley purchased the club for $1 million five years ago. Since then, the operation of the courses has cost millions of dollars.

The town council has been discussing the issue since January. Four options were considered, including reducing the number of holes or converting the courses it into an open space, like a public park.

Several public hearings, community meetings, and discussions were held about the financial stability moving forward.

[ Hundreds show up to share concerns over the future of Oro Valley’s golf courses ]

Homeowners have continuously shared concerns over decreasing property values, public safety and health issues, and the uncertainty with the reason why they moved to Oro Valley in the first place.

“It’s been frustrating because it doesn’t seem to make any sense to close the golf courses. The courses and the community center are profitable and they’re a great attribute to this city," said Shurtleff.

“They say they want to make a decision, I’m here to find out if they make that decision because it’s very important to us and our home," said resident Philip Wheeler.

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

During Wednesday’s meeting, Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield proposed keeping the 36 holes operational if a list of conditions were met.

Those conditions include opening tee times for outside play, increasing membership and developing a youth golf program. Mayor Winfield also proposed closing the Overlook Restaurant and renovations to the community center.

After an hours-long discussion over the motion, Vice Mayor Melanie Barrett was the only council member to vote against the motion.

The town will also start negotiations with two Homeowners Associations who have offered a combined $125,000 a year contribution to the courses.

The club, located near La Cañada Drive and Lambert Lane, has been controversial from the start.

The town council voted 4-3 in December 2014 to buy the club. Less than two months later, an effort was launched to recall Mayor Satish Hiremath and council members Joe Hornat, Mary Snider and Lou Waters.

One of the driving forces behind the recall was the purchase of the club.

Hiremath, Hornat, Snider and Waters survived the recall, but they were voted out of office together in 2018.

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