D'Andrea Country Club Faces Closure

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SPARKS, NV - With its club house, manicured greens and commanding views of the Truckee Meadows, the D'Andrea Country Club should a prime asset to the homeowners in the east Sparks neighborhoods surrounding it.

But just about everyone there will tell you it has failed to keep that promise and some will tell you it now threatens to become a blight on the area.

he golf course has been irrigated with treated waste water from the city. Sparks officials have raised the rates, the course is now nearly $150-thousand dollars in arrears. The water is shut off and the owner says he's ready to close the place.

If he does, some fear the green belt in their midst could become a weed choked eyesore or perhaps, some day sold for new home sites.

So, the D'Andrea Homeowners Association has proposed a $28 dollar a month fee per household to keep the place open and green.

A lot of people here think that's not a good idea.

"It's not fair ask us to pay to support the golf course. We'd rather spend our money in other places." says Merl Coon, who says he made sure the country club was a separate entity with no claims on the homeowners association before he bought his home.

And, he says, though $28 dollars may not sound like much to some, especially those on fixed incomes, it can be.

Others say the proposal would force the country club's absentee owner to keep the place up while other solutions are sought and allowing it to close would impact everyone's property values and quality of life.

"I walk around the golf course three times a week," says Pamela Ginsburg. "Climb that hill, get up to the top and thank God I live here. I'm going to ask why am I living here."

The issue has divided the community pitting neighbor against neighbor. Ginsburg says her neighbor and friend for 40 years was recently approached by someone against the proposal.

"They asked how they could be friends with me," she says. "If you don't agree with me we're not going to talk with you anymore? That's the way some people in this community are thinking. It's sad."

Those lining up behind the proposal point across the valley to what was once Northgate Golf Course in northwest Reno.

Northgate was once operated by the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority which eventually found it a losing proposition and not the added value attraction to visitors they'd hoped it would be.

The RSCVA walked away from Northgate causing immediate concern among neighbors who wanted to preserve it.

Eventually it was saved, thanks to the neighborhood voting to create a special assessment district raising $1.2 million to help purchase it.

It will eventually be kept as open space with a small city park. It will never be a golf course again. Reno Parks officials say it had no water rights and one season without water saw it returning rapidly to native vegetation and invasive weeds.

The vote to save Northgate was overwhelming. There's less support for D'Andrea.

One reason may be the almost universal lack of sympathy for its owner, Santa Barbara based developer Will Gustafson, who is widely blamed for mismanaging the country club, creating his own financial problems.

That view makes selling the 1,200 D'Andrea property owners on a rescue for the golf course all that more difficult.

That may be the one thing, at the moment, on which both sides agree.

The mail-in ballots will be counted March 8.