Overwhelming Support for Golf Club Purchase

(Photo by Dawn Burns)









Marty Thompson

In what President Steve Spanier called an amazing vote of confidence, OVA members voted a 73 percent approval to raise their dues to finance buying the Oakmont Golf Club.

“This is pretty amazing,” Spanier told a cheering Berger Center audience Aug. 8. “I want to thank all of you for participating in the democracy we have here in Oakmont.” The crowd responded with a 33-second standing ovation.

The total vote, 2,702, could be a record for Oakmont.

There were 1,968 yes votes, 707 against the dues increase, and 27 ballots with no choice, helping to ensure a quorum. Turnout was 84 percent of 3,208 eligible voting members.

“That’s an enormous percentage,” Spanier said.

After announcing the result, the board went into executive session to plan the next steps to reaching a sale and purchase

agreement with the golf club and a lease partnership agreement with Advance Golf Partners, which would lease and upgrade the golf courses and the Quail Inn.

“We’re thrilled that the community is behind keeping control of the property,” OGC President Gary Smith said. “The next step is continuing due diligence on the offer.”

Board members watch as Berger Center crowd responds with standing ovation after vote announcement. (Photo by Maureen McGettigen)

At stake has been the future of the OGC and two golf courses covering a 250 acre swath through the community. The club has been running in the red, and put itself on the market earlier this year.

The OVA board responded with a plan to retire $1.2 million of OGC debt and other liabilities and assume its $2.4 million primary loan.

OVA member dues will increase next year by up to $23, from $75 to $98 per month. That includes roughly $6 for OVA operations, $7 for a 15-year golf club acquisition loan and $10 to build a golf club reserve fund to help ensure financial stability. The reserve would be capped, so if AGP turns around the club’s finances that dues contribution could be reduced or eliminated in future years.

Golf Club board members weighed offers for the property and recommended its members approve the OVA proposal, noting that others interested in the club had in mind non-golf development of its property. OVA’s plan will preserve the property for golf. OGC, which is a private corporation, would cease to exist when AGP takes over running the golf facilities.

OGC members overwhelmingly endorsed the plan on Aug. 6, voting 185 to 1 with one abstention.

The OVA’s dues-backed proposal sparked debate by backers and opponents on social media, door-to-door campaigning, leafleting and in newspaper advertising inserts.

The board held a series of open forums to hear member comment, and heard regularly from speakers at its regular meeting open forums.

Volunteers and machines open ballots, slit envelopes and extract ballots, the start of vote-counting. (Photo by Julie Kiil)

Community interest brought out 2,702 voters compared to 1,897 cast in the 2017 OVA Board election, the largest in the last decade.

It was only the second community-wide vote in its 55 years. In 1989 members rejected a $1,500 special assessment to buy the golf courses. It failed by some 300 out of more than 2,400 votes at a time when Oakmont Gardens residents collectively had only one vote; each now is a voting member. The OGC was then founded privately to buy the properties.