When Ahwatukee Foothills resident Ruth Roberts purchased her home more than six years ago she was excited to look out her back window and have a view of a beautiful green golf course. Today, her view is of browned grass and a pile of dead tree branches.
Months ago after several complaints from residents the management of The Lakes Golf Course began the process of cutting down dead trees on the course. Each month the city of Phoenix sends out an inspector to work with management to identify trees that should be cut down. The trees are cut and the dead branches should be carried away, according to Patrick Ravenstein, code compliance manager with the city of Phoenix.
However, Roberts said when the trees outside her yard were cut down more than six weeks ago they were left there and have been an eye sore ever since.
“It’s my personal feeling that it will never be cleaned up,” she said. “What I see right outside my living room window is dry branches everywhere, scattered around. It’s an obstacle to look at. It looks like a disaster area. We haven’t had any snakes or anything like that but this could attract rats and heaven knows what else.”
Terry Duggan, general manager and president of Ahwatukee Golf Properties, said they’re working closely with the city to make sure the trees are taken care of, but said it’s a slow and costly process.
“This has been going on for quite some time, maybe even upwards of a year,” he said. “We’re taking down the dead trees, it’s just a process to take them down and dispose of them. We’re working closely with the city. They come out once a month to inspect and make sure we’re doing everything we can to get this taken care of. We are in the process of buying a new heavy-duty chipper that can handle that size of a tree. We’re hoping to get that in next week. Once we get that in it will speed up the process.”
Duggan said to hire a company to take care of the trees would cost $900 per tree, and with 35 to 40 trees to cut down and haul off the price tag just isn’t something achievable for a golf course that is losing money.
Ravenstein said the process may be taking longer than residents would like but that working with management really is the best option.
“If we issue a citation and take them to court, that won’t get the job done any faster,” he said. “It’s better to work with folks and keep them on a timeline and work through the process. If we issue a citation we’ll have an arraignment in three weeks. If they go to that and ask for a hearing that would be scheduled out another 30 days. That’s at least three months right there and that doesn’t mean the trees are cut down. We typically try to work with people, whether it’s the golf course or a resident and the job is too long for them to do in a weekend, we try to work with them to get the job finished.”
For Roberts it’s been long enough. She’s planning a large family gathering with family from California, Albuquerque and Texas all coming in to celebrate her husband’s 85th birthday and their 65th anniversary, but the dead branches outside her back fence are dampening her plans. They’ll have their party indoors instead.
Wilson Gee, who owns The Lakes, has stated that he would like to close the golf course on June 1 once the season is over. The course isn’t making money and hasn’t for some time. Homeowners on and around the course are fighting that decision.
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