Airport golf course purchase falls through | SierraSun.com

Airport golf course purchase falls through

Jamie Bate
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunSteve Day of Truckee putts a ball into the ninth hole on the Ponderosa Golf Course Wednesday. The Truckee Airport was unsuccessful in a bid to purchase the course, but a course official said the airport did not negotiate.

The future of Truckee’s first golf course is up in the air after a deal between the course owner and the airport district fell through.

The Truckee Tahoe Airport District board announced this week that the district would be unable to purchase the 53-acre Ponderosa Golf Course as part of its effort of protecting undeveloped property within its flight pattern from development.

A purchase would have preserved the 9-hole course, whose owner, the Himsl family, says is no longer economically viable. Because of that, the owner has proposed a rezoning of the area for homes.

Although the Ponderosa Golf Course was not offered for sale, the airport district performed a market appraisal on the property with full agreement from the course owners, Dave Gotschall, the airport’s district general manager, said in a release.

Based upon the appraisal, the airport made a written offer for the property at the appraised value in an effort to maintain the golf course and associated open space.

Gotschall, however, said the owners of the golf course rejected the offer.

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As a public agency, the airport is unable to exceed the appraised fair market value, according to district officials.

“We really tried hard to acquire the land, but the owner said that it was not for sale at the appraised value,” Kathleen Eagan, president of airport district board, said in the release.

Al Bailey, Ponderosa Golf Course general manager, confirmed that an offer was made by the district and subsequently rejected by the Himsl family. He said the airport officials are unwilling to negotiate.

“The airport doesn’t want to talk to us anymore,” Bailey said. “It’s either their way or the highway.”

During the Town of Truckee’s General Plan update last year, the Himsl family proposed rezoning the land for up to 150 residential units, something that was met with strong public opposition.

Development opponents hoped that the airport district could buy the golf course and then turn it over to the Truckee Donner Recreation and Parks District.

Bailey said he was disappointed that a purchase price couldn’t be agreed upon, adding that the Town of Truckee should be involved in the process.

The golf course, Bailey said, “has been in the family 44 years. It’s been an emotional decision. It was our desire to make this work. It would be a win-win situation.

“I think if Parks and Rec, the Town of Truckee and the [Himsl] family could get together, I think this thing could work. But they won’t talk to us.”

As for the future of the golf course, Bailey said he wasn’t optimistic.

“It could change any day, but right now if I had my guess I think the [family] would close the golf course,” he said.

Meanwhile, the airport district has committed $2 million to the Truckee Donner Land Trust’s $23.5 million purchase of Waddle Ranch in the Martis Valley. Waddle Ranch, which is zoned for approximately 1,000 homes, sits under the approach of the Truckee-Tahoe Airport runway.

In a previous interview with the Sierra Sun, Gotschall said the airport district is looking for open space acquisitions like Waddle Ranch. The goal is to lessen possible conflicts between future development and airport users.