Pima County not sure of golf course gift

Pima County not sure of golf course gift

GREEN VALLEY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Pima County will decide next month whether to accept a donation of an abandoned golf course that can be used to develop a new community park in Green Valley.

The course, Canoa Hills, has been closed for the past three years, a victim of the recent Great Recession and a downturn in golf interest.

The developer is offering the property to Pima County. The county will not pay for it according to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. The property is 130 acres which winds through a retirement community on the south end of Green Valley along Interstate 19.

County officials are taking some time to make a decision because they are not sure of the costs associated with converting a golf course for a new use.

"This is the very first occasion," said Huckelberry. "We don't have the model yet."

There are likely other golf courses in Tucson that will also transition he noted, as the city of Tucson is debating what to do with its five course portfolio.

While the courses make money it is not enough to pay for future infrastructure and upkeep costs, which the city estimates will be $25 million over the next 15 years.

There have been public meetings where the city has asked the community for input on repurposing these courses.

Again, the cost is an issue. A park will not generate revenue but will cost taxpayers maintenance and upkeep.

"The question is," according to Huckelberry, "What does it take to convert a former golf course back into natural open space, natural desert, re-vegetation?"

For Green Valley residents, a new park may be welcome. The town has the fewest public parks of any community in Pima County. It has just one.

"Overall, we are both for it," said Velma Whittier and her husband, who moved to Green Valley two years ago from Maine. "I'm thinking in five years, people are really going to love it."

The feeling is not universal.

Gary Svendson, who lives across the street, is worried about who will pay for the maintenance and upkeep.

But he can support it "If you get somebody to care for it, somebody to police it and somebody to clean it."

Pima County will put in on an agenda early in 2018.

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