The lakes and a pond near the closed The Lakes Golf Course will be filled through February 2014 thanks to donations from the public and the Ahwatukee Board of Management (ABM).
The additional time will give ABM and Lakes owners time to better plan to transport animals from the lake and to deal with transforming the homeowners association-owned pond into a grass-covered retention area.
ABM was caught off guard when the owners of The Lakes Golf Course decided to stop filling their lake, which feeds a small pond owned by ABM. In the heat of summer the pond has been drying out at an alarming rate and residents have begun to complain about turtles searching for shelter in their yard and the smell of the drying pond.
The board of ABM voted to pay the owner of the course, Wilson Gee, $7,000 to fill the lakes on the golf course, including the pond owned by the HOA. ABM will also contact three sub-associations around the golf course to solicit donations to keep the lake filled through February.
Waiting until February to transport animals will be safer, said Robert Blakesley, general manager of ABM. At that time the weather will be cooler and will put less stress on the animals and their rescuers. It will also give ABM time to better prepare to transform that pond from a pond to a landscaped water retention area.
Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio has been following the closing of the golf course closely. When the issue of the animals was brought to his attention by neighbors near the pond he approached the city to see if the city could donate water to fill the lake. He was told legally it was not possible for the city to pay to have the lake filled. DiCiccio was able to get some equipment donated that would make re-filling the lake possible. At a meeting with ABM and The Lakes ownership it was decided that ABM would pay to have the lakes filled initially and would find donations to keep it filled temporarily.
Ben Holt, president of Save the Lakes, a local nonprofit trying to enforce neighborhood CC&R’s and keep the golf course a golf course, said Save the Lakes will not be donating to keep the lake filled. While Save the Lakes supports the idea of keeping the lakes filled, money donated to Save the Lakes has been donated with the purpose of paying for legal fees if the group needs to go to court against Gee. Gee has made it clear that he would like to develop at least a portion of the course into luxury apartments. He said the course has not been making money for a number of years and it was closed after the season on May 5.
ABM has created a space on its website to keep homeowners up to date on the latest news about the golf course. That website is www.ahwatukeehoa.com.
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