Four years after the D’Andrea golf course closed, residents of the development say overgrown weeds and a pond that may be a breeding ground for mosquitoes are hurting property values and making homeowners nervous about the area’s future.
City officials say they sympathize with residents, but have gotten no response from owner Will Gustafson of IPC D’Andrea, LLC when asking him to take better care of the land.
“The city struggles to get Will to do anything; we’ve asked him to address these issues but he never returns our calls,” Councilman Ron Smith said.
Smith said the reaction has been the same when the city tries to get cleanup done on the clubhouse, which burned down last fall.
“The fire department has to issue a release and then the city can give Gustafson 90 days to clean up the mess. It’s still laying in a heap,” Smith says of the clubhouse’s remains. “I wish I had the answers; I used to live on the course. We have to follow the [city’s] process, but it’s just not fast enough for these homeowners.”
Gustafson, however, told the Sparks Tribune that he is reachable and has discussed the issues with proper authorities.
“I get so many emails and phone calls…the city just emailed me and wants me to donate the maintenance building,’’ he said.
Gustafson also said he has taken care of the property that once was an 18-hole golf course.
“We’ve owned D’Andrea since 2003 or 2004; it’s my pride and joy,” he said. “We’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars on cutting and mowing the weeds and will continue to do so every time we get notice.’’
D’Andrea opened in the summer of 2000 with its peak golf play in 2005-2006. The course closed in 2012 after the members of the D’Andrea Homeowners Association rejected a proposal for a $28 per month fee increase per household to help maintain the course.
According to D’Andrea covenants with the city of Sparks, homeowners and the course owner, if the land used as a golf course is not maintained it reverts back to nature as open space. That hasn’t satisfied homeowners, who say the city of Sparks is not enforcing its own codes.
“Why is the City of Sparks not capable of enforcing the city’s code on the owner of the defunct D’Andrea golf course?” D’Andrea homeowner Steven Swinburn asks in a letter to city officials dated June 10, 2016. “The course closed in 2012. It is 2016. The weeds are above two feet in height and when this gets ignited for whatever reason the entire D’Andrea development will be at risk! I believe the city code is maximum eight inches. Also note the lake on the 15th hole is a breeding ground for West Nile and Zika. What do I need to do for the city to take action?”
After the golf course shut down in 2012, residents have worried about their property values, overgrown weeds, and the general deteriorating state of the land. A few homeowners have expressed their anger at Gustafson allowing this decline and are anxious for some sort of resolution.
“The attached photos are what the ‘golf course’ behind my home looks like today. As you can see, the weeds and brush are extremely dry and overgrown. We’ve already had one fire by arsonists who burned down the clubhouse. Luckily nobody was hurt. We may not be so lucky next time,” D’Andrea resident Sue Arzillo said in a letter to Smith this week.
“If weeds on my front lawn were this high, I’m sure the city would make me cut them down or fine me heavily. As homeowners, our question is, ‘Why is the owner of the D’Andrea Golf Course not being held responsible for this negligence?’”
“If a fire happens below us, all of the houses will go down,” Swinburn added. “All of us are very disappointed with code enforcement.”
Serving on Sparks City Council since November 2006 and former member of the D’Andrea Home Owners Association, Smith would love to see a resolution, too.
“I don’t care if it’s a golf course or a slip n’ slide, I’m on the homeowners’ side,” Smith says about future plans for the now defunct golf course.
Smith says that since last fall, Mayor Geno Martini and he have met with over 200 residents to help address their concerns. A homeowners meeting is set for July 27, and, Smith asks the residents to be receptive of any proposals for redevelopment.
“Even if it were to be a 9-hole golf course again, that wouldn’t be a bad deal,” Smith says. “I was up in the neighborhood last weekend and met with folks; they are pretty reasonable. All I’m asking is for [homeowners] to have an open mind going into the July 27 meeting,” Smith added.
Sparks Fire Department Fire Marshal Robert King says that the clubhouse fire is still under investigation and even though a Sun Valley man has been charged, the case has not gone to trial yet.