Clear Lake Water Authority considers uses for Golf club
The Clear Lake Water Authority is looking into cost of building detention ponds on the old Clear Lake Golf Club property since acquiring the property earlier this month, but it may be several years before the work actually starts.
Authority general manger James Byrd said that funding is the main obstacle to turning the 178-acre property at 1200 Reseda Drive into detention ponds to mitigate flooding in the Oakbrook, Oakbrook West, Camino South, Bay Glen and Meadow Green neighborhoods and along Bay Area Boulevard.
However, the authority has hired engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam to come up with a preliminary design and a cost estimate on a three-phase plan. Byrd said the authority has also started looking into partnerships with other entities such as Harris County Precinct 8 and Harris County Flood Control District to help pay for the project.
"Realistically, we won't see anything happening on the golf course for at least five years," Byrd said. "Like a lot of government agencies, we are strapped for cash right now."
Still, Byrd expressed relief that the water authority had control over the property after a five-year legal wrangle with the previous owner, Renaissance Golf Group.
The water authority board approved the $6.25 million purchase May 6, closing a chapter of back and forth offers and counteroffers and court proceedings dating to 2005, when the water authority began eminent domain proceedings on owner Renaissance Golf Group. The water authority had originally offered $3.5 million. Renaissance had at one time asked for $15 million, and a recent appeals court decision put a $5.1 million price tag on the property.
Bill Schweinle, general counsel for the authority, said he feels good about the purchase.
"I think in general, it's a win-win settlement," Schweinle said. "The golf course owner got some good money out of the sale, and the water authority got the dirt without the hamstrings of condemnation law."
Leslie Alvarez, general manager of the nearby Clear Lake City Community Association, said the community was delighted with the purchase.
"As a whole, the community wanted to see the property sold," Alvarez said. "We have flooding issues, and drainage control is a high priority in this area."
Byrd anticipates the engineers could have a report by the next board meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 9, at 900 Bay Area Blvd.
Byrd said few hazards exist on the property, which will remain open to the public. The former owner agreed to remove any dangerous structures, and the remains of the club house were demolished after an April 7 fire.
The water authority has contracted for mowing and will remove dead trees as needed. Bird said the two remaining bridges are being assessed to ensure they are safe.
"A lot of people use it for jogging and walking," Byrd said.
"We are going to allow that to continue."
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