Lakota Ranch community solves rec center dispute | PostIndependent.com

Lakota Ranch community solves rec center dispute

After a dispute between homeowners at New Castle's Lakota Ranch, the developer and the homeowners association escalated to the threat of a lawsuit late last year, a compromise appears to be working out.

The deal involved months of negotiating and compromise on both sides, and the newly renovated community center is now under the homeowners' control, rather than the developer's.

"The exciting thing for homeowners is that the center really has a sense of community," said Lakota Ranch HOA board president Mark McDonald. "This process showed how much ownership we have of our community. It didn't benefit anyone to continue to battle."

The dispute began after the developer, Warrior Association, and the HOA board agreed to a deal that would have had the homeowners buy the community's recreation center for $1.6 million, well above the $650,000 price the developer tried to sell it for the year before.

At the time, Warrior had control of the board with rights to two of the three seats and the Lakota Ranch homeowners felt they hadn't been consulted on the deal and did not want it to go through, said McDonald.

At an HOA board meeting in December, the day an article on the dispute printed in the Post Independent, over 130 homeowners showed up to try to stop the deal.

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McDonald said the attendance at the meeting demonstrated to Warrior that there were misgivings about how the process was handled.

After a reshuffling of the HOA board, including increasing from three to five board members, Warrior and the HOA agreed to a new price at $625,000 and Warrior agreed to vacate a board.

With control of the board and the community center, McDonald, who was appointed board president at that meeting, said the next step was to negotiate a food vendor to come in.

Capital Deli, which began in El Jebel, had its ribbon-cutting on Wednesday night, and the homeowners spent $40,000 this spring on recently finished renovations to the pool, kitchen and rec center.

"I think everybody is happy with how it ended up," said Warrior owner Brendan Flaherty. "We sacrificed a lot, but everybody seems happy with how it turned out."

Lakota Ranch will open its newly renovated pool this weekend. And, with new subcommittees to help govern, the rehabilitated rec center should be with the community for a long time, McDonald said.