Effective May 1, 2015, the Town of Oro Valley took formal ownership of the El Conquistador Country Club. Finalization of the purchase came after the title company completed a review of the purchase agreement with HSL Properties on Friday.
Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath said in a statement released Friday, “We look forward to transforming this beautiful facility into the Town’s Community and Recreation Center.” That transformation will have to include expensive mold cleanup. In order to increase the sagging interest in golf, the Town is also turning the golf course into a “hack” course. Hack golf course feature 15 inch holes in order to increase one’s chances of success.
The purchase includes 324 acres of land, a 31,475 square-foot building, restaurant, 31 tennis courts, 45 holes of golf and two swimming pools for $1 million, which will be paid for through a sales tax increase.
Troon negotiated the golf course management contract with HSL, owner of the El Conquistador Resort. HSL sloughed off the golf courses and country club building to the Town in order to make their purchase of the resort more desirable. Now, the Town is in the final stages of assuming the HSL/Troon contract and Troon will manage the three golf courses, tennis programming and food and beverage services until the Oro Valley Parks & Recreation Department can take over, if ever.
According to sources, if the Town sells the property, the new buyer is required to lease 18 holes of golf to the resort. This insures HSL, or any future owner of the resort will always have golf, which is a requirement from Hilton to maintain the “resort” status.
As a result of the decision to make the controversial purchase, on Monday, signatures for three recall petitions were filed with the Town of Oro Valley Clerk’s Office. The petitions were submitted by the Oro Valley Citizens for Open Government Committee to recall Oro Valley Vice Mayor Lou Waters, Councilmember Joe Hornat and Councilmember Mary Snider.
The Town Clerk has reviewed those petitions and forwarded them to the Pima County Recorder’s Office. The Recorder has 60 days in which to verify the signatures before the petition process moves forward.
The committee indicated that they have over 3,000 signatures on recall petitions for Mayor Hiremath, but want to get more before filing. The group has until June 26, 2015 to collect the minimum of 2,765 valid signatures required by law.
The purchase also spurred a referendum effort by TOOTH (Teed Off Over Tax Hike) to bring the purchase before the voters. This was followed by a lawsuit when Julie K Bower, Oro Valley Town Clerk, rejected over 3000 signatures due to a small clerical error. Despite losses in Pima County Superior and Appellate Courts, Oro Valley residents Debra Arrett and Shirl Lamonna have taken the battle to the Arizona Supreme court in a last ditch effort to give Oro Valley residents a voice in this financially flawed decision.
A grand opening celebration will be held on Saturday, May 2, noon to 3 p.m. during which the driving range and swimming pools will be free, and free tennis instruction will be provided. No equipment necessary. The day’s festivities also include prize drawings for free golf and fitness passes, tours of the community and recreation center, and a ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Hiremath. A special tour for members of the media will be held at 1:30 p.m., following the ribbon cutting.