Country Club Reality Check

golf ball on lip(Submitted by Charnelle Wright)

Although it was thoughtful for one of our fellow homeowners to alert everyone in our community to the opening of the SunSett Grille at the Somersett County Club, we should be mindful that this restaurant is housed in a double-wide trailer / tent, upgraded using $75,000 of property owners money without the benefit of a vote by those property owners.  We firmly believe this was a disgrace and insult to the intelligent people who choose to live in this beautiful community.

During the early development of Somersett, Somersett Development Co., our developer, enticed 270 Homeowners to invest $25,000 to $45,000 each (approximately $10M) to become members of the Somersett Country Club promising them a decent building for their Club.  Instead, they were given a double-wide trailer and a tent and called that substandard structure a Country Club.  Nowhere else in Somersett or Reno or any other city would such a structure be allowed.  It is an embarrassment to the community.

Many members left their investment in the Country Club when the developer requested they  take control of the clubs mounting expenses, further adding to their already sizable investment.  The remaining 170 club members now refuse to face the reality that most private clubs throughout the country have had to face.  That is, they must go public to survive.  The only clubs that are currently succeeding, are those that have gone public and given up the concept of exclusivity.  With just 170 members, they have little to be exclusive about, least of all, the substandard building they call a Country Club, which as many fear, and if the current SOA Board has its way, a replacement may be built using additional SOA assessments .
Are you aware that the Country Club is using property owner’s funds to build a separate driving range so that the non-members won’t rub elbows with the exclusive 170 members?  We believe this is a travesty, abuse of power and a misuse of funds without input from the remaining 2311 other property owners.  Millions of property-owner dollars have been targeted in the so-called “Lease Agreement” with the Country Club to be used over the next ten years for so called “improvements” that should have first been put to a vote of all property owners.  Instead of giving that money away in a contract called a “Lease”, perhaps it could have been put to a better use as a trust fund to build a decent clubhouse in the future, or as a subsidy agreement to be repaid to the Homeowners Association at some point in time.  Without a vote of the property owners approving these actions, the resulting misuse of these funds, is a flagrant abuse of power and negates the concept of “Democracy” that we firmly believe in.

10 thoughts on “Country Club Reality Check

  1. Remaining in La La Land, uninvolved, with regard to the future of our community is much easier than analyzing and discussing the problems and solutions. You don’t have to worry about what people think of your analysis, or lack of it..or do you? I appreciate those spending their time analyzing the issues on both sides. The future of our community will be determined by the agreements that Blake Smith put in place and people who are willing to work in that framework created by those agreements…for better or worse. It’s a monumental task that requires the resourceful thinking of as many homeowners as possible.

  2. Charnelle’s point on the Country Club structure is well taken. Section 5 of the Lease Agreement entitled “Event Trigger” states the following:

    “Upon the initiation of building a permanent clubhouse by the SGCC, at the SOA’s option, SGCC would undertake to redesign its master plan for its future clubhouse with adequate capacities to include additional RESIDENT amenities as designated by the SOA including but not limited to the amenities described in Section IV.5.3 of this Agreement”. This is followed by Subsection 5.1 that states: “This option is subject to negotiation of definitive terms to include a fee structure commensurate with the amenities being offered and the future growth of the community”.

    Sounds to me like an additional assessment fee on Somersett homeowners to subsidize construction of a permanent clubhouse. Why else would this article be included within the Lease Agreement?

  3. Charnelle’s comment about an ugly substandard temporary double wide restaurant tells us that perhaps a more descriptive name should have been chosen than the SunSett Grille!

    We have heard that Somersett’s SOA has issues with the community members who live on the “defunct” Northgate golf course, as they might want to build “pink” houses on their newly purchased links (land). At the moment Northgate looks a lot like Mt. Peavine (OK to us). Hence we wondering whether that this might be a better option for the SGCC land than the housing development the declarant has planned for the Country Club and Championship Golf Course (announced at November 14th 2011 Board Meeting). The good news is that at least this new development will be built up to community standards (no pink houses, no double wide trailers)!

    We come from a part of the country where Diners (yes, even in San Francisco they have the “Fog City Diner”, Reno already has Joe’s Diner) were made from old railroad passenger cars. At least when a place was called a diner, you knew what ambiance and food to expect.

    With a trailer, well, when you see these in parked by the road, you know what to expect, so that makes sense! – according to the CIA it even made sense to the late Saddam Hussein as he was allegedly using trailers (heavily disguised?) to make pharmaceutical grade products, and WMD’s!

    On reflection we think that the SunSett Grille is aptly named – especially if you go in to try the menu, one will have a different perspective from the inside looking out! They also have a great bar, serving a delicious local brew – Ichthyosaurus IPA (Great Basin Brewing) and a plethora of well mixed cocktails – so we would like to suggest that the name be changed to: SunSett Bar and Grille: (watering hole?) to better reflect a less than well disguised trailer.

  4. I am not a golfer, but I would think it would have a serious negative effect on our already greatly reduced home values if the SGCC turned into another Northgate. Someone needs to come up with a plan to keep the country club going and provide the non-present members some kind of an interest in the country club. Such a plan should include building an appropriate club house, etc. If that does not work out – if the SOA dues subsidy is terminated – then probably going public or partial public is the answer. We need to find a common sense solution to keep the country club golf course operational.
    I agree with some of the other comments about the SunSett Grille – the food is good, good value and convenient for us – additionally Coughlin is a food consultant – and I think the food is good value. As the Nike ad says – we need to Move Forward – and find a satisfactory way to improve and keep the golf course operational.

  5. The economic reality of sustaining a financially viable country club operations in the context of a PUD is extremely challenging after having worked as a developer in the san francisco bay area on a similar size project as Sommersett with major amenities , including a golf course, builtout country club, tennis courts, and private restaurant.

    I would suggest that we engage a independent third party consultant to make a independent feasibility analysis and validate the concerns of all vested parties and recommend alternative options , including the feasibility of a sale of the amenities to a third party operator /owner such as Country Club of America (CCA).

    1. I like the idea of an independent third party doing a feasibility assessment, but question what the cost would be, and whether the current board would authorize it. Right now, every time we ask any questions, the SOA attorneys soak up association money.

      1. I think the question is can we afford not to do it as the potential financial consequences of this decision would far outweigh the cost of any feasibility studies. I would estimate that the cost of the feasibility studies, depending on the scope would run anywhere from $8,000- $20,000

  6. Very well put, the biggest issues we face is that all private golf course members made a sizeable investment which is now in trouble and expect all Sommersett Homeowners to protect their investment. The most concerning; because of the subsidy agreement it makes it very attractive for a private investor to purchase the golf course which will result in all the original members/investors getting their money back but keeping their member status.
    We as home owners will remain on the hook for the subsidy payments for the next ten years. If Home owners are concerned about subsidies being bestowed on them without their knowledge or concent they should join Somersett United in our fight to protect the rights of every home owner. We should all have a voice in decisions being made that has an effect on all households financially or issues concerning our community.

    1. JT
      Thank you for your insight into the real benefits to the golf club members. This contract allows the members to cash out their investment, earn a profit, stop paying the required $6,200.00+/yr membership fee, terminate their ownership of a bankrupt enterprise, eliminate the dain on their personal finances to support a failing enterprise and continue to play golf on this course. It is a win, 6 times over for them, and a $5,000,000.00 to $6,000,000.00 lose to the property owners.
      Herb James

  7. Our greatest concern is that the “Lease” with the Country Club puts all homeowners at risk financially for the next 10 yrs. The main issues are:
    The contract should have been put to a vote by all homeowners who pay dues.
    Blake Smith hid the contract from all homeowners except the 170 Country Club members.
    This means that the 170 Country Club members are being supported by the remaining 2311 owners who never had a voice in how this agreement was drafted nor what the contents were.
    No ones dues are protected from increase after 2012. The Country Club is not making its financal condition known to the homeowners who are supporting it. Jim Haar discovered a clause in the “Lease/Contract” that could mean we will have to support the building of a new Country Club Bldg. How much money are you willing to expend to keep the Country Club going without a vote?

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