At the Save the Lakes meeting Monday morning at 9:30 there was standing room only. Chairs were brought into the Ahwatukee Recreation Center main hall for many homeowners eager to hear anything positive about the ongoing debacle between Mr. Gee and the homeowners themselves.
There was. We all know the property known as The Lakes Golf Course has been let go into a blight condition by Gee and his partners. We all know they have made mistakes and wanting the people around the golf course to take the hit whilst they waltz away with millions of dollars. We all know the Pulte Corporation has been trying to change the VERY SOLID CC&R’s to their advantage to build approximately 240 homes on the fairways. Since there is not a real permanent plan we suspect they can institute zoning changes to include commercial interests as well as apartments. We all know Gee and his cohorts now have a $1.6 million tax issue they cannot dodge. It must be paid to the county assessor before this property can change hands.
After the last rain, WE ALL KNOW how important the golf course fairways are to taking flood waters away from South Mountain downstream to the Gila. In their presentation there is a quote from Ms. Myesha Harris from the city of Phoenix Floodwater Department: “Ahwatukee is one big drainage problem.”
We all know property values have been going down due to this blighted situation created by Gee. The people around the golf course paid a premium on their lots for the golf course view and status. Pete Meiers from Realty Executives made several statements about the declining and weak property values Pulte and Gee have produced. The glaring fact surrounding The Lakes Golf Course is all the other courses are doing quite well and turning a profit. Many of us do believe Pulte and Gee are trying to pull a fast one. “It should be criminal to create a blight and then profit from it,” says Michael Hinz. What we found out Monday is there are many people and a lawyer willing to make a stand in this David and Goliath battle.
As a casual observer I have much respect for MC Ben Holt, who eloquently gave a quick Lakes history and brought all of us up to speed on what he and so many others have been doing to keep these robber barons from our doors. Think about it. He and a few others, including Councilman Sal DiCiccio, have worked long hours and days on this project with a common thread. Their mission statement says it all: “Save the Lakes is a voluntary organization dedicated to preserving and defending the CC&R’s that govern the use of The Lakes Golf Course property.” Nicely stated.
DiCiccio said on Feb. 1, 2014: “These become extortion cases. What I want to do is stop the extortion. The only way to do that is make sure the courses are maintained…” Glad DiCiccio is on our side. The organizers of SAVE the LAKES have accumulated 2,200 signatures in a petition drive to Save the Lakes, whereas Pulte has reportedly pulled in several hundred. Recently, Pulte and Holt met to discuss the what/where/how they could work together. The simple question from Pulte was, “How can we compromise (the CC&R’s)?” Indeed, there was but one answer, “Read our mission statement. None.” Holt is my David.
But now, let’s introduce Tim Barnes, attorney at Law. He has taken on this case and filed in Superior Court of Maricopa County on Oct. 10 AGAINST Gee and his partners. Gee did sign documents declaring their agreement to adhere to the CC&R’s established years ago. He cannot just change his mind and enter into a real estate deal with a developer (Pulte) and disregard these CC&R’s. In part, the lawsuit says “Defendants have taken a series of steps to consciously ignore the requirements of the 1992 Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions’ and mentions ‘By reason of Defendants breach, default and violation of the 1992 CC&R’s…Benefited Persons have been damaged.” Is he looking for millions of dollars in reparations? No. Is he looking for money for the people surrounding the golf course? No. Barnes is making the case the people around the golf course are seeking an injunction ordering compliance and continuing compliance by Gee to reinstate the golf course as required.
Bravo, Barnes. I (we) can only hope and pray these guys wise up and take the high road on this and bring this golf course back to life. After Barnes’ presentation, there was a wonderful uplifting that perhaps the people of Ahwatukee will win against this Goliath and did proceed to donate profusely in the effort. Yes, it always takes money. Save the Lakes is stronger than ever and WILL NOT BACK DOWN. Many thanks to the people like Ben Holt, Linda Swain and so many others that have poured time and perspiration into this effort.
• Ahwatukee resident Dan Tamblo is a local writer.