HUDSON, Fla. -- The president of The Estates at Beacon Woods Homeowners Association said residents plan to attend this week's meeting of the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners to ask for help addressing deteriorating conditions at the former Links Golf Club.
- The Links Golf Club closed in June
- HOA president says course hasn't been maintained since
- Residents want ordinance that would require owner to mow course
"Values of homes," said HOA President Jay Cybart of one of his concerns. "You're out here working to keep your backyard clean and trimmed, then you have this."
Aside from golf cart crossing signs that dot The Estates neighborhood and cart paths that wind past homes, it's hard to tell The Links was an active course just more than four months ago. Grass is overgrown, greens are now brown, sand traps don't have much sand left, and weeds as tall as people grow across former fairways. Cybart said while the course wasn't in top shape before closing, much of the overgrowth has occurred just since closing day on June 10.
"From what was a fairly decent course, we have this. So, we're held hostage," said Cybart.
Links owner Matt Lowman announced the closing in a letter dated April 22 that's still posted outside the clubhouse. It states owners were unable to complete capital projects that were key to the longevity of the course, including greens renovations, t-box renovations, and cart path improvements.
The letter goes on to state that in 2013, Lowman proposed homeowners in the Beacon Woods East community pay $100 a year to help with capital improvements. In return, each household would receive a golf membership with discounted green fees. Lowman wrote the proposal was not accepted by the Master Association.
"Due to the financial considerations and the lack of homeowner associations support, we have not been able to make it work. As a result, we have reluctantly made the difficult decision to close down the course, pro shop, restaurant, driving range, and all other related facilities as of June 10, 2019," the letter reads.
In a letter dated July 1, Lowman wrote there was a chance the Links could reopen.
"A closed golf course impacts the homeowners because property values will decrease," the letter states. "Over the recent years, there have been numerous examples of how an abandoned golf course lowers home values in a neighborhood."
Lowman again proposed a fee for residents. This time, homes on the course would pay $400 per year, or $33.33 per month. All other homes located in Beacon Woods East and Fairway Oaks would pay $200 per year, or $16.67 per month. The letter said funds would go toward capital improvements, and households would receive two golf memberships valid at The Links and Beacon Woods Golf Clubs.
"A lot of people are on fixed incomes, so I'm going to tell them, 'Oh, we could legally do this, so we're going to try to take $12, $14, $16 a month from you to supplement capital improvements at this privately-owned golf course.' We're a not-for-profit, so how do we do this?" said Cybart.
Cybart said he and other residents planned to attend Tuesday's BOCC meeting and request that commissioners look into enacting an ordinance similar to one passed by Seminole County in 2014. It required that vegetation on parcels of land that had been previously improved for uses such as residential or commercial development, stormwater management, or recreation be maintained once it reached eight inches in height.
"We have 480 homes in The Estates. Between Fairway Oaks, The Reserve, Beacon Point, Barrington Woods, Millwood Village, we have well over 1,000 homes," said Cybart of the communities near the course. "Times that by two, you're impacting over 2,000 people directly by not maintaining it. So, if you can't or won't, maybe it's time the county step in and say, 'You will.'"
While the issue wasn't listed on the agenda for the BOCC meeting, Commissioner Jack Mariano said he planned to bring it up. He said a county attorney was in the process of drawing up a similar ordinance for consideration in Pasco County.
Requests made to Matt Lowman via e-mail for comment were not immediately returned.