The city of Glendale is about to play through with a sale of the Glen Lakes Golf Course.
While City Manager Kevin Phelps thinks this is a well-above-par sale, opponents think it’s a sand trap and are calling for a “Mulligan” (do over).
The city closed the golf course in May, and has been marketing it since.
Despite petitions and protests from golf lovers, Phelps said the city is finalizing a sale.
“We have selected the buyer, which we presented (to city council) in executive session,” Phelps said. “We’re in the process of negotiating the purchase.”
The sale price, he said, will be “north of $6 million.”
Jane Bachman, co-founder of the group Save Glen Lakes was not happy to hear of the planned sale. She said a development over the golf course “will literally kill the neighborhood.
“The Glen Lakes supporters have fought for keeping the golf course and greenspace — a housing development at the Glen Lakes property is not the outcome we wanted,” Bachman said.
Phelps said he expects the sale will be presented to Glendale City Council on Nov. 25.
The purchaser plans to build 172 homes, Phelps said.
“It’s not going to be a golf course,” he added.
While he declined to name the purchaser, Phelps described the group as “a great developer. They have a great plan. They’re going to put a linear park around it — a buffer park on three sides, with trails and amenities.”
Phelps noted the purchaser will have to go through a rezoning process to change it to a planned area development (PAD). “They will have to close by the end of March, regardless of PAD (status),” he added.
Phelps said the purchase of Glen Lakes was competitive.
“We had nine proposals that came in. Five of them were really legitimate,” he said.
The city hosted several multiple public meetings on the golf course. The first public meeting was May 13, at Glendale American Elementary School. City staff asked for public input on what types of amenities were desired for 20% of the land which was designated for open land or parks.
Members of Save Glen Lakes tried for years to save the course, searching for a buyer who will keep the property a golf course. But Phelps said there were no offers for the course as is.
Glendale purchased Glen Lakes in 1979. The course is in central Glendale at 5450 West Northern Avenue, between 51st and 59th avenues. The property is maintained by Golf Maintenance Solutions (GMS) with a contract until June 2020, or until the property is sold.
“The Glen Lakes recent history begins with the city making the decision to close the course in 2017, prior to the council vote, public hearings, historic designation, and with the complete and utter lack of regard for the community, especially the residents who paid a lifetime of taxes, know their neighbors and managed to keep their neighborhoods safe and free from blight for decades while the surrounding areas went to pot,” Bachman said.
She insisted the city was not interested in the needs of the neighborhood and referred to “the sham public meetings, that allowed for only discussion of the public park, not the housing development and disallowed any statements about Glen Lakes history.
“The city charter requires public input prior to any sale of public property or land. Unfortunately, the authors of the charter did not include instructions on how the input would factor into the decision-making process.”
Bachman is not the lone voice, as Save Glen Lakes is active on social media, using Facebook and change.org, where it posed a petition signed by 472:
“The citizens of Glendale, by signing this petition, are asking our elected officials to save Glen Lakes Golf Course and provide the resources necessary for updating and improving this long-time city asset. It is valuable parkland that preserves the quality of local neighborhoods while providing a much needed public source of recreation for our citizens of all ages.”
A few signers added comments.
“I am signing because this has been a great little course for Glendale,” said Lisa Chasse. “With some TLC, it could be great again. Let’s not allow another Glendale landmark to slip away.”
Jeremy Paxton added, “I’m signing because I love this little golf course. It is one of the reasons I moved into this community. The trees are amazing. If it is unable to be updated at least turn it into a park so I have a place to take my kids.
“We don’t need more pavement or housing or apartments.”
Phelps disagrees with that view.
He pointed to a 2011 Wall Street Journal article, which Glendale was teetering on bankruptcy trailing only Detroit in negative fund balance.
“We were in a tedious financial condition,” Phelps said, appointed Glendale’s city manager at the end of 2015. “We felt what we had to do was right the ship financially. And the best way is new revenues, economic development.”
His point of view, in the four years he has been city manager: “High-performing organizations need to narrow things down and stay in their lane,” Phelps said, before ticking off and answering rhetorical questions.
“Can we manage golf courses? Yes. Can we manage cemeteries? Yes. Can we have a city fair to compete with the county fair? Yes. We’ve got the ability.
“Should we be in those businesses is the more important question. We need to prioritize staff, free up resource.”
Phelps said the money saved letting the golf course go will enable him to spend money elsewhere.
“For Glen Lakes, we spent $350,000 last year keeping that golf course open,” Phelps said. “I could hire five parks maintenance people every year with that money.”
He said the financial gain to the city will continue long after the “north of $6 million” sale is banked, with 175 homes “at a $300,000 average price, that creates $55 million on the tax rolls.”
Phelps said the sale price is not always the full bottom line.
“We’ve sold a number of assets, and the most important thing to do is pick the right partner - we’re better off with the right partner and making a little less than a bad partner.”
The golf course purchaser “has a strong reputation throughout the Valley,” Phelps said.
While the sale was nearing completion, the city manager noted it is not a “done deal” until city council approves it.
This will allow for those opposed to the conversion of the golf course to a housing center another opportunity to voice opinions.
“It will be done in a public meeting. This council majority has made it clear (selling the course) is the right move for the community,” Phelps said.
“That area is struggling. You can tell by the payday loans (stores), tattoo parlors and convenience stores.
“We want to bring in a higher level of development and expendable income.”
Bachman insisted the city is favoring a high-end development over its low-income residents.
“The council’s vote to sell the golf course will have lasting consequences on some of the city’s most vulnerable population,” Bachman said.