“There were too many people who just felt the golf course was not important to them,” said Lynn Stoltz, a D’Andrea resident living on the 13th fairway. “They either didn’t golf or didn’t live on the course. We fought that battle and we lost.”
The D’Andrea Golf Course recently made headlines when a Secret Witness reward was offered for information about the graffiti at the deteriorating course’s clubhouse, which now sits empty, covered in spray paint, with many of its windows partially or completely broken. Homeowners who were overruled by the community vote of 1,200 residents said the view from their homes was largely their reason for purchasing a home on the course, and they are now faced with a sickening backyard sight.
“It’s definitely depressing to see the course now,” said Nancy Maldonado, a nine-year D’Andrea resident. “I know neighbors who are considering moving because of how it looks now. For us, we are making due. We have planted flowers and different things in our yard to help overcome what is behind it. Essentially, that is a Band-Aid. It is a serious eyesore to look at it every day.”
The appearance of the course has taken second stage to the safety hazards to residents of homes along the course, including potential fire to the dry grass and weeds. Stoltz said though her home was previously “bombarded with golf balls” during playing days, she wants nothing more than the brown grass to return to form.
“This really was a gem for the City of Sparks,” she said. “We would talk to the golfers when they would be outside our yard and they said they loved playing the course. Now, we have weeds growing four and five feet tall in some spots.
“We have been paying our landscapers to go out and trim the weeds behind our property and they have been using mowers lately to get things cut down and removed. We cannot get any answers from anybody about who is responsible for maintaining the property.”
D’Andrea Golf Course, which was valued at $11 million in 2007 by Washoe County, was purchased by InSymphony Private Capital for $1 million six months ago at auction. InSymphony, which has refused to comment on its plans for the course, has rumors spurning throughout the community for plans to turn the clubhouse into an event center.
Funding continues to be a question when it comes to the course or the clubhouse, and some residents believed the City of Sparks could purchase the course and maintain it. Assistant City Manager Steve Driscoll said there was a minor conversation about the course years ago, but timing limited funds at the City. Now, the debilitated course is of no interest to the City.
“We had no interest from the standpoint that it was right about the time of the recession. We were downsizing. We certainly didn’t have cash to purchase it and we would not have been able to come up with operating expense even if we had the initial property,” Driscoll said. “While it was kicked around a couple of times, I don’t believe it was anything more than just some casual conversation. It was not anything viable. We were scrambling trying to figure out how to get it done. It was discussed and pretty quickly it was determined not to be an option.
“We continue to have phone calls from concerned citizens and property owners that would like the City to purchase it, but it is private property and there is no reason for us to acquire it at this time. Obviously, it is open space and it would be nice if it was a golf course or some other open space use, but it is private property.”
D’Andrea resident and author of a Save D’Andrea website (dandrea2013.com), John Rhoads, has advocated for keeping the golf course since talks of it shutting down began in 2012. Rhoads recently sent a letter to Mayor Geno Martini, addressing concerns about basic upkeep, fire hazards and plans for the clubhouse. Rhoads said in his letter that employees recently working at the clubhouse said InSymphony returned control of the property to previous owner Will Gustafson, who was in control when the $28 fee increase was voted down.
“When they were going for the vote, Gustafson said if it didn’t get approved he was going to bulldoze the whole thing,” Rhoads said. “I thought that was crazy and I figured it was just a threat. There is too much money in the clubhouse to do that, but that was his threat.
“The day the vote went and didn’t go through, and I voted for it, all the employees were let go that day and the flags were still in the holes for few days. It was just done.”
Rhoads, among other D’Andrea residents, said the most frustrating part about the dilapidated course’s situation is being “kept in the dark” about its plans, whether it be for the clubhouse or the course itself. Maldonado said she and her neighbors want to help keep things looking decent, but they know the property is not theirs to alter. She said it was “putting good money after a bad situation.”
Stoltz agreed and said if rumors confirm previous owner Gustafson is in control the future is bleak.
“All we hear is he is saying ‘I will fix it up’ and try to make everyone happy,” Stoltz said. “I don’t believe he is actually trying to help the residents because it should never have gotten to where it is.
“When we first started landscaping to help control the weeds, some of the neighbors would come out and ask if they (our landscapers) were with the golf course and start asking questions about the plans for the course. That is an example of how residents are being kept in the loop, which basically is non-existent and that is the frustrating part.”