Creekside Estates residents vote Wednesday on proposed fees to keep golf club open

Golfers at the Wellness Classic at Creekside Golf Club (Mary Louisa Van Natta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Residents of Salem’s Creekside Estates may soon have to pay $90 a month to stop owners of a neighborhood golf club from closing it for development. 

Households in the upscale south Salem neighborhood will vote Wednesday on a proposal to set the monthly fees for all 588 households, totaling $1,080 per year for each. 

It also includes a second fee, 1% of the sale price of any home sold in Creekside Estates, to go to a trust fund for the golf club. Of that, 65% would cover future infrastructure projects and 35% would cover salary increases for club employees, according to a May 27 letter from Audrey Konold, president of the Creekside Homeowners Association, to homeowners in the neighborhood. 

The proposal would generate about $4.12 million for the club if approved, and owners Larry Tokarski and Terry Kelly would agree to pause plans for development on the property for five years. (Disclosure: Tokarski is a co-founder of Salem Reporter.)

It comes after six years of litigation over the potential closure of the club, which is incorporated as a private business.

The owners in February 2016 sent a letter to homeowners saying that the club might have to cease operations due to its “financial situation,” and listed options for homeowners to have it stay in business, according to a February 2018 complaint. 

The association rejected their offer and filed a lawsuit in April 2016 in Marion County Circuit Court, seeking a judge’s order forcing the club to forever remain a golf course. They

later argued that November in a complaint that previous club ownership developed and advertised lots in Creekside Estates as neighboring an “18-hole championship golf course.”

A Marion County judge ruled in May 2017 that the association didn’t clearly establish irreparable harm, and that any harm to its members is “outweighed by the extreme financial hardship that will result” if the owners are ordered to continue operating the club.

The association appealed the decision to the Oregon Supreme Court in 2018, but a judge denied its petition for a review of the ruling.

Tokarski and Joel McDonnell, community manager for the homeowners association, both declined to comment. Kelly could not be reached for comment.

Ballots for the election will be accepted by mail or electronic voting until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. 

The two proposed fees for homeowners will be voted on separately and have different requirements to be approved, the letter said. 

The $90 monthly assessment would require two-thirds of homeowners voting on the proposal.

That wouldn’t include the $47 per month they already pay in homeowner association fees, nor would it come with a club membership, according to reporting by the Statesman Journal.

The trust fund fee would require approval from 75% of all households, or 441.

If the golf course is closed in the future, both fees would be canceled, the letter said.

For the trust fund mentioned in the proposal, infrastructure projects would include building and pool maintenance work that has been delayed, such as replacing pond liners and upgrading the irrigation system, according to a website for the self-described Creekside Preservation Coalition, which includes members of both the Creekside Homeowners Association Board and the golf club.

The club has struggled financially for at least a decade, according to reporting by the Statesman Journal. Tokarski and Kelly in 2016 filed a pre-development plan with the city of Salem to close the golf course and develop 354 units on the property. Club leaders the same year sought to get homeowner association fees raised by $60 per month to raise about $400,000 annually, and they also asked the city to lower the club’s fee rate for water and have residential water customers cover the costs. Both efforts failed. 

Correction: This story was updated to reflect that ballots for the election were accepted by mail or electronic voting until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, not Wednesday. Salem Reporter apologizes for the error.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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