For half a century, many Glendale golfers felt at home on the links of Glen Lakes Golf Course. Now, some Glendale residents will call it home as a development of 173 houses is planned for the shuttered municipal golf course.
City Council closed the course in early 2019, which opened in 1966 and was bought by the city in 1979, despite pleas from residents in the area to keep it open. During a Planning Commission meeting Thursday night, several residents spoke in opposition of houses going up on what was once 43 acres of greenspace in their neighborhood, with a few calling for the golf course to reopen. That ship seems to have sailed though, as City Council has already sold the land to a housing developer.
“My community is losing precious open space as infill occurs around us. A total of 453 homes will be built in the Glen Lakes area within the next two years,” stated Jane Bachmann in a letter to the commission. Ms. Bachmann is a nearby resident and a leader of the Save Glen Lakes community group which unsuccessfully lobbied Council to keep the course open in 2018. “We are a 40-year-old neighborhood, many of us our seniors and are original homeowners who had no plan to move away. Once housing takes over, gone will be the 42.8-acre green space, the nature scene, the birds and wildlife. Our landscape and our quality of life will never be the same.”
Thursday’s meeting was for informational and public input purposes only. The commission will vote on general plan and zoning changes for the property in a yet to be scheduled meeting. Developer plans show a minimum lot size of 5,175 square feet and house designs ranging from one to two stories, three to five bedrooms and a minimum house size of 1,574 square feet. The general plan amendment would change the land’s designation from public open space to residential and the zoning change would switch the zoning from agricultural to residential.
The majority of City Council voted to close the nine-hole course, northeast of 55th and Northern avenues, because it had started operating at a loss and would have required an infusion of cash to get it up to a quality that would have improved its business. Barrel District Councilman Bart Turner and Ocotillo District Councilman Jamie Aldama were the only Council members to object to closing the course and selling the land. Everyone agreed that the course was rundown, but many of its advocates said it had become so by years of underfunding from the city to not provide the course with needed upkeep.
“The city has done what we would call a self-fulfilling prophecy with the golf course,” said Glendale resident Rick Tannehill in the Thursday zoning meeting. “… The city, I believe, has intentionally let it deteriorate. And as it deteriorated, fewer and fewer people came, including me, to play golf and that decreased the revenue which gave the justification for ‘Well, let’s just get rid of it and build a bunch of houses.’”
Part of the reasoning for the council members who voted to close the course was that the city has another municipal golf course, the Desert Mirage Golf Course, five and a half miles west of Glen Lakes and Desert Mirage turns a profit.
The benefits of a golf course go beyond the ability to play nine holes though, many residents have argued. In 2018, Ms. Bachmann said she hoped that if the city must close the course, that they preserve it as green space for the surrounding neighborhoods.
Mr. Tannehill echoed that wish Thursday, though it’s incredibly unlikely to come true at this point as Council has signaled its intention by selling the land to a housing developer. Council lost a lot of its control over what happens to the property when it sold it, but it does still have a legal leeway to reject the housing development if it wanted to. The developer needs Council’s stamp on the general plan and zoning changes before they can put up houses because the land is not currently zoned for housing. Such a change would mean a full 180 from Council, however.
Ten of the 43 acres will be open space, however, as the developer, Homes by Towne, is planning to build a narrow park on both the west and east of the property, connected by a walking trail that wraps around the north of the property. The 10 acres of park land will be handed over to city control upon completion to become a neighborhood park.
Though Ms. Bachmann pushed for the space to remain green, open space, she fears making a portion of the land green space and bringing in hundreds of more people will create bustling crowds in small areas.
“The HOA will have no designated open space and will use the public park instead. The public park of (10) acres is where this community of 173 homes will recreate and walk their dogs, along with people from communities surrounding Glen Lakes. It sounds like a busy place, doesn’t it?” she stated.