- Al Haggerty and Jackie Ryan, photo by Julie Kiil
The OVA board has yet to reveal a concrete proposal to respond to the Oakmont Golf Club’s request for financial aid. But residents were asked for input and their own ideas on several options during a town hall meeting on July 10. Options included payments aimed at helping the club with drainage costs, land acquisition and membership structure.
Dozens of residents stepped up to the mics, some several times, to address the issue that the Oakmont board of directors has been wrestling with since late last year. One resident, Judie Coleman, in an impassioned plea, said, “A vibrant, active community like ours doesn’t just happen. A community has to be committed to supporting the active lifestyle. If the golf courses fail, the stigma of failure and the resulting mess will impact every aspect of Oakmont life.” Another resident painted a picture of “weeds and a brown horror show” adding, “Nobody wants that.”
Contrary opinions focused on the lack of concrete proposals and financial data available for the membership to see. The OVA board has signed a non-disclosure agreement based on the proprietary nature of the data.
“It has been mismanaged for years, and the club has provided no plan for what it wants to do with the money. We have been kept in the dark, “ said Pat Clothier. “We need evidence that they will put effort to make corrections before we divert money to help them.”
Lynda Oneto, former member of the OVA board, said the OVA doesn’t have the money to support the club and that maintenance of OVA facilities should take precedence. She said contributions to the club should be voluntary.
Tom Kendrick, vice president of the board, who has been working closely with the Oakmont Golf Club to address the club’s request for financial help, told the Oakmont News that he hopes the issue will be resolved “in a few months,” quickly adding that he’s been wrong before. He said “more exploration” of the issue is needed and that residents would get more detail before any final decisions are made.
Addressing unconfirmed reports that OVA was considering a $1.4 million aid package for the golf courses, Kendrick said, “I don’t see that happening under any circumstances.” He added that he’s hearing from “an awful lot of people that something should be done.” He said he has seen the OGC financials for the last three years and they paint a picture that is “not great.” While the operation showed a .9 percent profit over the last five years, he said, the results have been “inconsistent” and not all the course maintenance is being done.
John Theilade, whose six-year stint as golf course pro ended earlier this year, said the maintenance crew has been reduced from 24 to 12.
John Williston, former member of the OGC board, opened the meeting with an overview of the 54-year history of the golf courses, including a years-long court battle between two groups seeking to purchase the courses. He said the continuing drop in golf rounds played and competition from courses in Windsor and Bennett Valley continue to affect the Oakmont golf courses.
Kendrick, who worked in risk management for more than three decades, said disregarding a risk “doesn’t make it go away.” He said OVA has two choices: to do something in advance concerning OGC’s financial stability or try to recover from a golf course failure.
Among the ideas floated to help the OGC, Kendrick said it is “absolutely appropriate” to discuss the financial burden of maintaining the golf course waterways, which the OGC puts at $100,000 a year over the next five years. He called this “a lack of fairness,” adding that OVA has been getting a free ride for quite a few decades.
He said Oakmont was laid out so that nearly all its water flows through the golf courses. If this water isn’t properly handled, he said, it could wind up in Oakmont houses. “Should we thumb our nose” at the OGC over this issue? he asked.
Other ideas include the transfer of some OGC property to the OVA, the no-fee use of OGC meeting rooms by the OVA, sharing maintenance services and acquiring dormant OGC memberships by the OVA.
The OGC property that seemed to draw the most positive response is a strip of land on Oakmont Drive, across from Wild Oak Drive. While it appears to be part of the golf course, it could be converted to a dog park with little effect on the course.
Other parcels that appear impractical for OVA use are a home-size lot on Oak Leaf Drive now used for maintenance equipment by the golf courses and a piece of land on Woodley Place. Use of the Oak Leaf Drive site would draw strong opposition from neighbors and the Woodley Place parcel is surrounded by homes and is part of the Oakmont water drainage system. A proposal to shorten the 3rd and 4th holes on the West Course apparently would be too expensive.