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Golf Course Purchase Could Hike Monthly Dues to $98 Per Person

Al Haggerty

          The purchase of the two Oakmont golf courses and restaurant by the Oakmont Village Association would mean a dues increase of up to $23 a month, raising the total from the current $75 to $98, or $196 a month for a two-person household.

          The increase, outlined at a town hall meeting June 25 in Berger Center, would include $5 to $7 to maintain and operate current OVA assets, roughly $6 to pay off a loan used for a possible purchase and about $10 for operation of the golf courses. The meeting drew an overflow crowd of nearly 500.

          If the board decides to send a letter of intent to buy the golf courses and assets, a ballot will be mailed July 2 asking the OVA members to authorize the board, if necessary, to raise the 2020 dues up to $23 a month. The voting will end after the required 30-day voting period.

          Two more town halls with identical agendas will be held July 2 at 1 p.m.  and 3:15 p.m. in the remodeled East Recreation Center. Members are urged to attend just one of the sessions since the center will almost certainly be at capacity for both. The board preferred holding both sessions at Berger, but it will be closed June 28-July 10 for replacement of the center’s audio-visual equipment.

          The asking price for the golf courses is $4.8 million. However, board vice president Tom Kendrick said the board has “no intention of being the highest bidder.”

          The directors met in executive session immediately after the town hall to decide  whether to submit a letter of intent to purchase the courses along with a bid. Directors  Jess Marzak and Marianne Neufeld did not attend the town hall or the Executive Meeting because of prior commitments.

          One option for operating the golf courses, if OVA makes the purchase, would be to lease the courses and establish a tenant-landlord relationship with the tenant assuming all operating risks. Ken Arimitsu, a broker with 23 years experience in the sale of about 130 golf courses and hired to represent the OVA, said they are now in negotiation with a company for a 30-year lease with the company providing $1 million up front.

          The town hall opened with a detailed PowerPoint presentation by Kendrick which reviewed the present status of the golf course, the options facing the OVA, and the effect on membership dues. He said of almost 300 emails received by the OVA nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent, supported purchasing the golf course. He said 20 percent opposed the purchase, “sometimes vehemently,” with the opinion of the rest “not clear.”

          Director Heidi Klyn said 99 percent of golf courses sold nationwide in the last 10 years were bought by developers. She said there is no problem with having city planners change the zoning at the request of developers. Opponents challenged her position, citing a number of “hurdles” any developer would face, including changing the city general plan.

          Klyn, backed by directors Noel Lyons and Carolyn Bettencourt, said if OVA doesn’t purchase the courses, the land “will be out of reach forever.” Bettencourt said OVA “can’t risk losing” this land. “The only answer is to purchase it. We need to do this.”

          While some residents questioned any purchase and challenged details in Kendrick’s presentation during the members forum, the majority of residents who spoke supported the purchase and audience reaction appeared to heavily favor a purchase.

          Harriet Palk called purchase of the courses “an insurance policy.” “We have a chance to be in control,” she added. Iris Harrell, chair of the Building Construction Committee, said purchase of the golf courses and development of the central area are tied together. The need for more parking, she said, could be satisfied by the use of some golf course property adjacent to the central area.

          Jim Duport asked about the possibility of a resident who can’t afford a dues increase agreeing to having a lien placed on their house to be satisfied when the house is sold. Association manager Kevin Hubred said OVA is getting a legal opinion on the lien issue.

          Dave Stein, addressing the issue of how the golf courses affect Oakmont property values, said it would be “grossly unfair” to charge the same dues for triplexes located a mile away from the golf course than for far more expensive homes bordering the golf courses. He called for a “proportional benefit” and Kendrick said the board was looking into the issue. Lynda Oneto questioned several aspects of the presentation.

To view the video recording of the June 25 Town Hall, please click here.

To view the PowerPoint presentation given by Board Director Tom Kendrick, please click here.