Golf offer sub-par, say Westbankers
Westbank residents could have to pay a one-time membership fee of $30,000 to $45,000 to play golf in their own backyards next summer, but that’s not what many are sore about.For golfers who don’t join, only six tee times per week will be available for public play under terms of a preliminary proposal. That doesn’t sit well with Westbank resident Jackie Woods.”We knew we’d have to join to play golf,” Woods said. “The problem is there aren’t more public tee times.”Warren Wright, a Westbank Home Owners Association member, put the tee time issue more bluntly. “This is ridiculous,” he said.Westbank abuts the Rose Ranch golf course, which was renamed this week as the Ironbridge Golf Course. Ironbridge general manager Michael Staheli defended the membership fees and tee time restrictions. He also acknowledged that some Westbank and Westbank Mesa residents were unhappy after his company explained the policies last week.”It’s tough to satisfy everyone,” said Staheli, who was previously project manager at Carbondale’s River Valley Ranch. “We’ve gotten a positive reception from most of the people we’ve talked to.”Westbank, located west of Highway 82 between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, is a golf course community established in the early 1970s.For years, anyone could play the nine-hole Westbank Golf Course, although it was privately owned. Rose Ranch LLC purchased the golf course in the late 1990s. On May 1, 2003, the reconfigured course is slated to reopen as part of the 18-hole Ironbridge Golf Course and residential community.Despite his concerns over the public tee times, Wright said Ironbridge did a good job rebuilding the former Westbank Golf Course. “It was flatter than a pancake,” said Wright. “They made it into a rolling course.”Wright said Ironbridge representatives presented their proposal to Westbank and Westbank Mesa residents last week. It includes:-Charter memberships at $30,000 for Westbank and Westbank Mesa residents through Dec. 31.-Memberships at $35,000 until May 1.-Memberships at $45,000, which is what everyone else will be charged, after May 1.-Public greens fees for nonmembers of $85 a day, and $125 for members’ guests.Staheli pointed to other private golf clubs with membership fees from $100,000 to $200,000, and said, “This is an unbelievable value when you compare it to other prices from the Roaring Fork Valley to Vail.”Staheli said public tee times are market driven, and might be increased if the demand is there. He said the six tee times translate to a maximum of 24 golfers per week.Wright said that during the Rose Ranch review process, residents were told there would be a “significant component” for public play.”We expected a reasonable amount of public play,” Wright said. “In the summer there are 70 to 80 tee times per week.”Garfield County planning director Mark Bean said Westbank residents have asked whether public play requirements were included in the Rose Ranch approval, and he has looked into it.”The planned unit development and preliminary plat language is very vague,” Bean said. “I haven’t found anything conclusive. There are no clear guidelines.”Bean said he will continue to research the golf course issue, but “other things have a higher priority.”While Bean continues his research, Ironbridge representatives encouraged residents to draft a counterproposal after last week’s meeting. That’s what Westbank Mesa resident John Huebinger and others are doing.”We’re still kicking around a few ideas,” said Huebinger, who first developed Westbank.Huebinger said he expects to present those ideas to the Ironbridge folks in a week or two.
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.