Possible OVA golf course purchase subject of much debate in Oakmont
It now appears that Oakmont residents may be asked to vote on any OVA effort to buy the community’s golf facilities, but how that measure would be worded remains unclear.
As the Oakmont board continues to explore buying the financially ailing Oakmont Golf Club, “it’s looking more likely” that a member vote would be required, board president Steve Spanier said in a May 17 letter to residents. The vote would be triggered if buying the OGC requires a special assessment or a dues increase beyond 20 percent, Spanier said.
“We are working on a time frame that we believe is reasonable – one that ensures we have all the information the community needs to make a good decision,” Spanier said in an interview. The overall goal, he said, is to make sure Oakmont keeps control of the 225 acres that form the heart of the western end of Oakmont.
The board has been tapping the experience and knowledge of operating, legal and financial partners, Spanier said. It also was looking into the condition of OGC’s assets, creating marketing plans, and securing an operating partner in the event OVA became the owner. Under such a partnership, the leasing partner, not the OVA, would pay facility upgrades, maintenance, taxes and insurance.
Community pressure is steadily mounting on both sides.
“Yes” signs urging support for an OVA purchase of the golf club have appeared in windows and yards around Oakmont. A spokesperson for the group, calling itself Yes – Save Our Community, said its initial order of 250 signs was quickly exhausted and more were ordered.
Another group calling itself the Oakmont Alliance published an ad inserted in the Kenwood Press, and delivered to the OVA petitions with 230 signatures demanding a community meeting and a community-wide vote on any decision to make an offer to buy the golf facilities.
In response, Spanier wrote in a report to OVA members that a meeting would be held within 90 days, as required by OVA bylaws, but those bylaws require a member vote only if financing of any purchase triggers the specified dues or budget increases. The meeting is set for Aug. 2.
It would take about $3.25 million just to clear OGC debts. OGC President Gary Smith said the club had not issued a timeline or a deadline by which offers must be received and would not say if any other potential buyers are in the mix. He also urged OGC members to disregard the many rumors buzzing around Oakmont that have ranged from interest by a major golf consortium to a bid by a developer group that includes a controversial silent partner.
“If you are not hearing from us, take it with a grain of salt,” Smith said. Golf club members would not be required to accept the highest bid.
The Oakmont community has been asked to vote on a purchase of the golf courses once before. In August of 1989, Oakmont residents rejected a special assessment of $1,500 per household that was intended, but not specified in ballot language, to allow the OVA to purchase the courses. With more than 2,400 mail ballots cast – a huge response at that time – the assessment was rejected by some 300 votes.
Any OVA offer this year would be subject to a community vote, if required, likely in late June or early July after multiple community meetings and town halls, Spanier said. If an OVA offer was accepted and OGC members approved, OVA and OGC would negotiate a purchase and sale agreement. An escrow period would follow, with additional due diligence and negotiations. After escrow closed, OVA would be the owner.
The OGC announced Feb. 13 that the club had hired a broker to seek new ownership, hoping to find a buyer committed to longterm retention of the two golf courses. OGC members later approved a special assessment to help with debt service.
Smith said the anticipated marketing process was barely half complete and no other sale details would be announced until it is completed.
“We have never specified nor communicated a particular timeline and certainly not a date upon which bids would need to be received, Smith said. “We told our members not to expect to hear anything about names, or offers or interest during this period.”