Save the Waikoloa Village Golf Course

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As some of you know, there is currently a petition opposing the annual dues increase proposed by the Waikoloa Village Association (WVA). What you may not know is that many of the petition signees are calling for closure of the Waikoloa Village golf course and the movement is gaining momentum. In fact, the subject of closing the golf course came up in the most recent public meeting of the WVA Board.

This petition offers no opinion on the dues increase proposed by the WVA. Instead, it focuses on the benefits provided by our golf course and other amenities and the probable negative impacts of closing or reducing those amenities. The WVA Board needs to know how we feel about these issues:

1) The golf course provides recreational opportunity for anyone who cares to play. The same is true for other Village amenities such as the pool, parks, and athletic fields. People who don’t use the amenities may be unhappy about having a portion of their annual dues go to supporting those amenities, but that position ignores the rest of the community. Waikoloa Village amenities are a place where people come together to meet others, enjoy the outdoors, and get some exercise. The WVA says it is “A Homeowners’ Association with Community Values.” The Declaration of Protective Covenants indicate that the WVA will “promote the recreation, health, safety and welfare of its Members.” Closure of Waikoloa Village amenities would be inconsistent with the stated goals of the WVA.

2) The golf course attracts mainland visitors and Big Island residents into our community where they patronize many of our local businesses. Would the restaurant property owned by WVA and currently operated as Banjay’s Paradise Grill be a viable operation without golf course traffic?

3) The golf course provides open greenspace which enhances the appearance of Waikoloa Village. It also provides open space for many bird species including the endangered Hawaii State Bird, the Nene.

4) Nene thrive on the golf course because it has ponds and closely mown grass. The ponds and closely mown grass allow adult Nene and their goslings to see and avoid potential predators such as mongoose and feral cats. As a result, the Waikoloa Village golf course has become known as a successful Nene rookery.

5) There has been some discussion about reducing the golf course to nine holes as a means of reducing costs. This would create a whole new problem because it would change the economics of the golf course. Most golfers want to play an 18-hole course, not 9-holes twice, so we would lose our highest paying customers; visitors from the mainland and non-WVA residents. At the same time, the cost of operating the golf course would not be cut in half. The cost of owning and maintaining the pro shop and some of the specialized course equipment would remain the same. The cost of operating the pro shop would be almost the same. Therefore, a nine-hole course would produce far less revenue than expected and much higher operating costs than expected. For these reasons, there is no guarantee that reducing the golf course to nine holes would save any money at all.

6) It is widely agreed that a golf course increases the value of all homes in a community, not just those homes located on the golf course. There may be some who doubt this, but there is no doubt about what happens when a golf course is closed. It grows wild again. In the case of Waikoloa Village, the course would go from green to brown and fill in with fountain grass and assorted weeds and brush. This would create an eyesore, increase potential fire hazard, and destroy valuable wildlife habitat. The cost of maintaining the abandoned golf course in a safe and prudent manner would be a considerable ongoing expense for the WVA that produces no apparent benefits.

7) Property values decline when a golf course closes. Homes and condominiums along the golf course would suffer the steepest decline in value. This would generate numerous lawsuits and mire the WVA in controversy for years. The cost of defending these lawsuits would be considerable. The cost of an adverse court judgement would be catastrophic for the WVA.

As you can see, there will be many risks and unknowns if a decision is made to reduce or close the Waikoloa Village golf course. The negative legal, economic, and social impacts on our community could easily outweigh the value of any anticipated long-term savings from golf course closure. On the other hand, the benefits of the golf course are many. It provides open greenspace, makes our community more attractive, and promotes outdoor recreation, exercise, and social interaction. How many close friendships have you gained while enjoying Waikoloa’s golf course, pool, parks, or athletic fields? Surely we can agree that Waikoloa’s amenities are one of the binding fabrics of our community.

If you agree with the information provided above, please sign the petition so our golf course and other amenities can be preserved well into the future. It’s time to let your voice be heard.

Mahalo



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