Turkey Creek residents look for a way to reopen golf and country club


Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.

A group of homeowners in the Turkey Creek community is exploring the idea of creating a special district in which homeowners would pay an assessment as a way to buy and reopen the golf and country club.

Facts

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For a video presentation about the special district, go online to https://sites.google.com/site/turkeycreekpublicoption/

The district would be a mini-government with its own governing board within the city of Alachua. Homeowners would pay a flat fee, an assessment based on property values or a combination of the two that would be added to their property tax bills.

The district would have to be approved by the Alachua City Commission.

Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari said city staff has had informal talks with a resident about the idea.

"The city is open to ideas," he said. "There's going to have to be some broad support out there that would prompt that."

But first things first.

The board of the owners association was scheduled to hear about the idea at its Sept. 19 meeting but it was rescheduled to Oct. 17 when the meeting ran long.

Theenie Smith, one of the homeowners behind the idea, said the group hopes the board will take charge of an effort to create the district.

Proponents also would need to gauge community support since the decision would come at a public commission meeting, Neil Dorrill said during a presentation to about 50 homeowners in July.

Dorrill's company manages several communities that have special districts in the Naples area.

Smith said Dorrill — who has family in the area — first approached the group when it was trying to get homeowners to vote for a $15 monthly fee. When that vote failed, the group decided to explore the special district idea.

The golf and country club closed in April 2011 as a result of declining memberships and needed upgrade costs.

Other efforts to save the club by golfers and people concerned about the effect on property values have fallen flat with many homeowners who didn't use the club.

When the club was still open, it put out an ultimatum for owners to join at some level of membership or forever lose rights for them or future owners of their property to join. The effort brought in more than 80 new memberships, but about 80 percent of the homes in the 1,200-home community did not join.

A May vote for homeowners to pay a $15 monthly fee designed to help lure a buyer to reopen the club got 56 percent approval, short of the 75 percent required by the bylaws of the owners association.

At the same time, a group of 12 people, mostly residents and golfers, looked into buying the club, among them Forest Hope, who helped his father, Norwood Hope, develop the community.

Forest Hope said they decided not to purchase the club for its $1.5 million asking price after determining that it needed $1.8 million worth of upgrades.

Another group has looked into buying the pool, tennis courts and clubhouse separate from the golf course.

Dorrill said special districts have the financial advantages of government, including the ability to borrow money at lower interest rates, use of the state's contracts for purchases, exemption from paying sales taxes, a cap on liability lawsuits and, as a result, lower insurance costs. They are also held accountable through open records and open meetings laws, and independent audits.

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