TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Residents became a vocal Wednesday night over a plan for Oro Valley to take a swing at the golf business and add a half cent sales tax to pay for repairs and changes.
In a 4-3 vote, the Oro Valley town council approved purchasing the El Conquistador Country Club and golf courses for $1 million from HSL Properties before a private party bought it. HSL will continue to own the Hilton El Conquistador Resort. The town expects to spend another $5.5 million to repair the courses and make the clubhouse a community center. The council approved the half-cent sales tax increase to pay for it by another 4-3 vote.
Troon Golf will manage the courses, and forecast that the operation will break even in four years. About 260 people packed into the council chambers Wednesday. They were either upset about Troon's projections that defy the sliding popularity of golf and how the decision had to be made that night instead of giving the public more time to support it, or they spoke in favor by saying the town needs a community center or it must protect the quality of 300 acres around 800 homes.
"We have several of the holes run through our course and we are concerned and residents are concerned that that if this purchase does not take place the holes maybe come in disrepair, the golf courses would grow up and dramatically affect the value of our homes," said Oro Valley resident Curt Balko, who supported the purchase.
"You have to plan for sitting down time as well as uptime. In this case, the numbers all show continued increase at very significant rate," said George Cates, an Oro Valley resident who opposed the purchase.
The town will take possession of the country club in March.