Galts: Preserve The Lakes at Ahwatukee Golf Course - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

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Galts: Preserve The Lakes at Ahwatukee Golf Course

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Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014 7:45 am

A golf course with open space adds value to homes and neighborhoods that, once lost, can never be reclaimed. I’ve noticed most people discussing The Lakes at Ahwatukee Golf Course ask “IF” the course is developed, what then?

As a home developer myself, the question I pose is: WHY? Why would any community allow itself to be used by an opportunist who decided to close a golf course and develop it at homeowners’ expense?

I’m a builder-developer myself. After reviewing this situation, I’ve concluded there’s little doubt The Lakes was shut down because Southern California developer Wilson Gee decided it was worth more to him if he could develop it, than run it as a golf course. Fortunately, thanks to CC&Rs, you and 51 percent of your neighbors can prevent this opportunist from taking advantage of you. DO NOT GIVE IN!

Let’s stand together, protect the golf course, and the value of our neighborhood. Right now, each of us can assure that The Lakes remains a golf course by signing petitions volunteers are circulating that say: “WE DO NOT AGREE TO CHANGE ITS USE.”

If we in the neighborhood make it clear that our CC&Rs require that The Lakes remain a golf course, its land value will be set as a GOLF COURSE, and will eventually be sold to a “real” golf course developer. A new owner will likely develop the property into a much nicer course than after Gee came along because:

• Recent media coverage emphasizes that “executive courses” (shorter courses) are in greater demand because they take less time to golf. The Lakes fits the market demand.

• Location of The Lakes is excellent, and property owners in the area are an attractive combination of executives, seniors and great neighbors.

• Before Gee, it was considered one of the best executive courses in the Valley.

• The neighbors are vested in its success and are willing to fight for it.

• Golf courses in Phoenix that are well maintained and managed are profitable.

I am both a developer, and a homeowner whose home backs onto The Lakes. I know my wife, my neighbors, and I are willing to keep looking at the weeds, dying trees, and mess Gee created until he understands we won’t let him change the use and sell this long-term neighborhood asset for his personal short-term profit.

That he chose to reduce its value by not caring for it is unfortunate. But that was his business decision, and in business, when you make the wrong decision, you sometimes pay a price. The good news for the neighborhood is, the dilapidated state of the golf course may allow a good golf course developer to purchase it at a price that reflects its condition, and return it to the gem of the Valley it was.

We would hope that Mr. Gee recognizes this early and decides quickly to minimize his loss and accommodate the neighbors by investing to re-open the course or sell it to a golf course developer.

As for Pulte, we can hope they re-evaluate their position and recognize that to develop this course would be to facilitate an injustice contrary to their image and their own values. Our message to Pulte is simple: Be a good corporate citizen. Do the right thing, advise Mr. Gee, and withdraw your offer to purchase The Lakes at Ahwatukee Golf Course.

Neighbors, tell your neighbors: if Gee or Pulte seek your signature or vote to change its use, stand firm and let it be known, there will be no change of use; The Lakes will remain a golf course.

To keep up with your neighbors on this issue, check http://savethelakes.weebly.com.

• Ahwatukee resident Marvin Galts is a builder-developer who has been involved with several developments throughout the East Valley, Montana, and Alberta.

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