SAVE San Geronimo Golf Course
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Dear Marin County Residents and Friends,
We are writing to you to ask for your support to STOP the County of Marin from purchasing and closing the San Geronimo Golf Course. The purchase price of $8.85 Million appears to be significantly over-valued and the acquisition of the property deviates from the San Geronimo Valley Community Plan to prioritize the purchase of ridge line properties.
It has been reported that the funds to purchase the San Geronimo Golf Course property will come from The Trust for Public Land ($4.4 Million) and other sources including the County’s taxpayer funds ($4.45 Million). The County’s proposed plan for the acquisition is to close the golf course and turn the land into another open space park. In 2009, it was reported in the Marin IJ that the property was purchased by The Lee Family Trust for $5.6 Million. Robert Lee and his daughter, Jennifer Kim, have run the course for the past 8 years. One of the investors in the course is now looking to cash out which is the reason for the quick sale. What is most concerning to me as a resident of Marin is that this project is being rushed through without providing the resident taxpayers enough information to determine if the purchase price is at or below Fair Market Value. If the County of Marin purchases the property at the reported price, the Lee Family Trust would stand to gain up to a 58% ($3.25 Million) return on their investment over the past 8 years. Whether you are a golfer or not, as citizens of Marin, we should demand that the property not be purchased for more than FMV as this would be a waste of taxpayer funds. In addition, the sellers are in a hurry to close and the County is apparently the only interested buyer. This should lead to a negotiated price below FMV.
We believe it is equally important to understand how the acquisition of the golf course fits into the San Geronimo Valley Community Plan, which was created by residents and county officials in 1997. The plan seems to indicate that a priority should be made to acquire properties along the ridge line between Samuel P. Taylor State Park and Loma Alta before other land. Purchasing ridge line land would be a much more reasonable use of taxpayer funds than purchasing land in the valley as ridge line developments would destroy the character of the valley.
San Geronimo Golf Course was built in 1965 and designed by Arthur Vernon Macan, an Irish immigrant who lost his left lower leg in World War I. Playing with a foot prosthesis, he won the Pacific Northwest Golf Amateur championship in 1913 and British Columbia Amateur championships in 1912 and 1913. Macan also designed the California Golf Club and Contra Costa Country Club. The 18-hole championship golf course is consistently said by many to be the toughest test of golf in Marin County. We would put the 11th hole up against any hole in the Bay Area. What a shame it would be to lose this masterpiece.
Today, San Geronimo Golf Course is home to the Marin County Amateur and Senior Championships and hosts the Sir Francis Drake High School and Dominican University Golf Teams. Over 50,000 rounds of golf are played each year by the public, the club’s nearly 80 golf members, and almost 40 employees. While it would be incredibly sad that the golfers, schools and tournaments would need to find a new home if the course closes, what would be truly devastating is that almost 40 jobs would be lost. Some of the great employees at the course support their entire families with the income from this one job. There is also the $68,000 in annual tax revenue the golf course generates for the county that would be lost if closed.
On a personal note, the San Geronimo Golf Course has been a second home nearly my entire life and I (Steven Wight) can honestly say my experiences with the San Geronimo golf community have made me the person I am today. I began playing at the course when I was 6 years old and got my first job there the day I turned 16, working off and on through college. My current career is a direct result of the relationships I've fostered over my nearly 2 decades of playing. Finally, one of the proudest achievements I have ever been a part of is the Marin County Amateur and Senior Championship. Michael Conklin and I began the Championship in 2008 and hosted our 10th annual event this past July where almost 100 top amateurs from around the State came to test their skills at San Geronimo Golf Course. It is hard to think about what will happen to this event if San Geronimo is closed. This course has made a significant impact on my life, and I'm sure I'm one of many who share this story.
We are seeking support from the community to STOP the County from overpaying and SAVE the San Geronimo Golf Course!
Steven Wight, Michael Conklin and the entire Marin County Amateur Committee
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