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Northcliffe golf course fate up in the air

City or neighbors could purchase club, but overseas owner must weigh in on the situation

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Schertz officials are looking for ways to preserve the Northcliffe Golf Club, which has fallen on hard times. Options include the city purchasing the course or neighbors taking it over.

SCHERTZ — City officials and residents are still seeking solutions for saving Northcliffe Golf Club.

Declining revenues and lack of maintenance led to the course’s shuttering in May. Since then, a band of Northcliffe neighbors are attempting to salvage the facility.

Politicos, in turn, offered to help with providing contact information for the course’s owner, Darsen Chen, who resides in Taiwan and has been difficult to reach.

Those efforts haven’t satisfied residents, who suggested the city buy the 147-acre course, located at 5301 Country Club Blvd. Instead, town leaders made a counteroffer with the creation of a Public Improvement District initiative, whereby local taxpayers charge themselves to fund the operation.

If a PID is implemented, Northcliffe homeowners could be taxed annually, Councilman Ralph Gutierrez said.

Whether the levy would extend to the rest of the city would have to be determined.

“Where do you draw that line where it’s fair?” said Gutierrez, a candidate for mayor in November. “If you live on the golf course, your interest is greater than someone who lives across the street or three blocks down.”

The city is hesitant to purchase the land due to a lack of financial resources. According to reports, Comal and Guadalupe counties appraised Northcliffe at $1.47 million. Irrigating costs have also influenced council’s thinking, as it would take $3.6 million to revamp the municipality’s water-treatment plant, officials said.

Factoring in the links’ purchase and maintenance, officials estimate a $12 million hit to the city.

“We have to do our due diligence to find out if we are going to keep it as a golf course or a park,” Gutierrez said. “We have to figure out what the total budget expense is allotted for, and also, what is it going to take to bring the course up to a reasonable level that people want to use it?”

It remains unknown if Chen even wants to divest. A decision shouldn’t be forced, Gutierrez said.

“I’d rather let the owner approach us,” he added. “I think it’s unethical to say, ‘Hey, sell us your land because you’re not going to do anything with it.’ It’s very difficult to deal with hypotheticals because it starts rumor mills and that is unproductive.”

Running the course until the last day was difficult for Dave Roberts, its general manager. Roberts told city leaders in June that he started investing his own money in 2017 to keep the facility afloat “until it broke me.” His investment included purchasing Chen’s Northcliffe management company for $10 and leasing the course from the owner for $1 a month.

Roberts walked away $40,000 in the hole, he said.

In an online post, Roberts commented he worked seven days a week, sometimes up to 15 hours, to keep the business open. He added friends and family helped, too.

Roberts has implored neighbors to brainstorm about a solution.

At recent City Council meetings, residents and city officials have failed to find a resolution.

However, Councilman Cedric Edwards said he has a plan, but is remaining mum until after this fall’s election.

“Most people are looking at it from one side,” said Edwards, who is also on the mayoral ballot as a write-in candidate. “I think if we look outside of the box, there is a solution.”

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