Oswit Land Trust Reduced Plan to Purchase Golf Courses in Palm Springs

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Golfers play the 18th hole on the Legend Course at Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort in Palm Springs, one of two courses on the city's own facility.

A year after proposing to buy the two city-owned golf courses in Palm Springs and convert them into a nature reserve, the Oswit Land Trust is scaling back its proposal to buy just one course.

Jane Garrison, founder of the Oswit Land Trust, said the modified proposalcomes after consultation with affected residents who own homes around the two golf courses at Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort.

“We like to work with the community,” said Garrison. “We are an organization based in Palm Springs. So these are our friends, our community. We met and talked to many residents in several sessions.

“We heard them and we listened, and that’s how we came up with the new proposal,” added Garrison.

The amended proposal would result in the Oswit Land Trust acquiring the Resort Course, opened in 1995, which is primarily located in the Tahquitz Creek Wash. The Legend Course, which opened in 1959, along with the clubhouse and practice facilities wouldnot be part of Oswit Land’s updated proposal.

The conversion of just one of the two city-owned 18-hole golf courses into a nature reserve still does not satisfy some who have opposed the city’s sale of the courses to the Oswit Land Trust.

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“I’m happy that Oswit is listening to the immediate community. I really am, ”said Ernest Cecena of SavePSGolf.org, an organization of homeowners and others who gathered more than 1,800 signatures on a petition to pushthe city is not for sale the courses. “Now we need to get them to listen to the larger community. This is not just the legendary course. That has evolved over time and SavePSGolf stands 100 percent for the preservation of the municipal golf as a whole. “

The possible sale of the courses by the citytook a step forward in October when the city agreed to pay $ 14,000 for half the land costs for the two courses and facilities in the east of the city, while the Oswit Land Trust paid the rest. Back then, then City Manager David Ready said that any sale would take time and require public hearings.

The sale from the city was moving slowly, said Cecena. Current City Manager Justin Clifton has withdrawn from discussions about the proposed sale because he lives near the courses.

No movement on sale in a year

“The message from the city was always that there was no movement,” said Cecena. “It sounds like everything has come to a standstill. They’re just waiting to hear from everyone, and that’s what they do. “

Garrison says the new proposal is best for everyone involved, including the cityhas spent more than $ 1 million from its general fund in the past few years to subsidize the courses.

“It enables golfers to continue playing golf. It allows residents who live near the golf course to keep a golf course in their yard, ”said Garrison. Eliminating one golf course would also focus all Tahquitz Creek game play on the Legend Course and help cut spending for the city, she added.

The purpose of the proposed restoration would be to create a natural corridor and increase the open land space within the city, Garrison said.

“The bulk of the resort course is washing, and the washing is important to our mission,” she said. “We have an endangered Casey June beetle in Palm Springs. This would allow the Casey June beetle to be restored and only improve that habitat. The wash also offers the possibility of flooding and is a wildlife corridor. “

Due to the change in the offer, every sale of the Resort Course must now be subjected to a new evaluation process, confirmed Garrison. While the city never released the estimated value of the two golf courses, buying one golf course instead of two would make it easier for Oswit Land to buy, Garrison said.

Facilities such as the driving range at Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort in Palm Springs would not be affected if the city decides to sell one of the city's two 18-hole courses to the Oswit Land Trust.

“Since we’re a land trust, we can only buy for the appraisal so it will all depend on the appraisal being in the land,” she said. “We are confident that we can buy it at appraisal. We definitely have a track record and have shown that we are able to raise funds, which was certainly the case with Oswit Canyon for $ 7,150,000 which was a huge buy for a land trust. “

The Oswit Land Trust, known at the time as Save Oswit Canyon, previously worked with the city to purchase land west of South Palm Canyon Drive and the Bogert Trail at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains in Palm Springs for a planned 230 residential unit housing estate.

Course funded a focus of the proposals

Cecena acknowledged the courses have cost the city money in recent years, but said his group and local homeowners’ associations have made proposals to help fund the courses.

“That seems to be one of Oswit’s main concerns, and to be fair, the golf course costs the city some money,” said Cecena. “But we honestly believe that the golf course was simply not managed optimally. It is not against Century Golf (the management company that signs a contract with the city) as management, but from the point of view of the city, managing its seller. “

Suggestions from SavePSGolf and others include improving the facilities at the Tahquitz Creek Clubhouse and Restaurant.

“The courses, like any type of asset, reinvestment and capital, need some attention,” said Cecena. “A golf course this size usually has a banquet room, a type of hall where the course can host your outside golf activities, tournaments, awards ceremonies, weddings, etc., all of which support the community.”

Larry Bohannan is the golf writer for The Desert Sun. He can be reached at larry.bohannan@desertsun.com or (760) 778-4633. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @larry_Bohannan. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Desert Sun.

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