ORO VALLEY, Ariz. — The future of Oro Valley town-owned golf courses is up in the air. The town council hosted a special meeting tonight. It was the first time since January that the council discussed the future of the El Conquistador Golf and Country Club publicly.
More than 700 people filled the auditorium for the chance to voice their opinions and concerns on why the council should keep or get rid of the golf courses.
"The rhetoric has become so toxic that resident are in fear in speaking and attending this meeting tonight. One person even asked me if there will be armed police. That's a sad testament to this community," said one woman who lives in Oro Valley.
This is a polarizing issue among town residents. Before coming to a decision, the council opened the floor for the public to weigh in. Some want the town to abandon the courses, "There are 285 pages of citizen letters, all of which support in some way to maintain the golf course. Where are the letters that don't support golf?" asked an Oro Valley resident, referring to the letters listed on the town council's website.
And others want the council to continue to support the golf courses, "This is what draws people to Oro Valley to discover what those of us already fortunate enough to know - who live here already know. It's about maintaining and enhancing our property values, yours and mine," said another resident.
Many shared the same concern about decreasing property values, if the town shuts down the golf courses. Even the Golder Ranch Fire District spoke on the consequences of plummeting property values, since the district's funding comes from property taxes.
"This will most certainty injure fire districts in future years. This will result in one of two options, a significant increase in property taxes to offset the loss of property valuation, or a significant reduction in public safety services that will likely mean a reduction enforced or lay offs of firefighters and paramedics," said Randy Karrer, the Golder Ranch Fire District chief.
Previously, after citing reports that show the expenses to run the courses outweighed the revenue coming in, the town manager outlined several options for the council to consider to solve its financial hurdles:
- Keep all 36 holes
- Reduce the number of holes to 27
- Reduce the number of holes to 18
- Abandon golf all together.
If the council decides to go with the no-golf option, then it would explore proposed uses for the land that include turning it into a park or a natural area. The town-council is expected to take up the issue again at its next meeting July 31.