Golf

Rocklin Golf Club rejects city’s purchase offer

The Rocklin Golf Club owner, Charlie Gibson, has terminated a license and access agreement with the city, which allowed the city to water grass on the now-defunct golf course. Gibson said he initially signed the agreement because City Manager Rick Horst, working on behalf of the Rocklin City Council, signed a letter of intent on Aug. 13 to buy the golf course. Months of inspections showed the city a darker future for Rocklin Golf Club.
The Rocklin Golf Club owner, Charlie Gibson, has terminated a license and access agreement with the city, which allowed the city to water grass on the now-defunct golf course. Gibson said he initially signed the agreement because City Manager Rick Horst, working on behalf of the Rocklin City Council, signed a letter of intent on Aug. 13 to buy the golf course. Months of inspections showed the city a darker future for Rocklin Golf Club. Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

Charlie Gibson and the city of Rocklin’s tumultuous engagement seems to have come to an end.

The Rocklin Golf Club’s owner has terminated a license and access agreement with the city, which allowed the city to water grass on the now-defunct golf course. Gibson said he initially signed the agreement because City Manager Rick Horst, working on behalf of the Rocklin City Council, signed a letter of intent on Aug. 13 to buy the golf course.

Months of inspections showed the city a darker future for Rocklin Golf Club, commonly referred to by its old name, Sunset Whitney. Problems like an outdated irrigation system and beat-up cart paths prompted the city to drop the price it was willing to pay to a level below what Gibson was looking for.

On Aug. 27, the city came to Gibson’s company, Sunset Whitney LLC, with a purchase and sale agreement. It was rejected within a half-hour.

Sunset Whitney LLC’s reply read: “This is written notice that your access agreement is no longer valid and that we have no interest whatsoever in your counter offer.”

A confidentiality agreement conceals the exact amounts detailed in the offer. In Gibson’s eyes, the final price the city offered was far different from the one in its initial letter of intent.

“It was not at all the terms agreed to in the written letter of intent,” Gibson said.

The letter of intent was meant to provide framework for a deal, not bind either party, according to a media release by the city of Rocklin.

No contact has been made between Sunset Whitney LLC and the city of Rocklin since the license and access agreement ended, city spokeswoman Leslie Woodman said.

“The city still values that property and sees it as an asset to the community,” Woodman said. “Hopefully there’s an opportunity to negotiate, but based off of their response at this time, it doesn’t look like they’re interested.”

Necessary infrastructure improvements would cost between $3 million and $4 million, the release said, approximately half of which would be spent on the irrigation system. The clubhouse roof and HVAC system were also in need of repair, while “significant work and expense” would be needed to fix the fairways, greens and sand traps.

Out-of-bounds areas on the course had been left unwatered for some time, the release said, killing off surrounding trees as a result. In addition, all tools, equipment and machinery on the club grounds would not be included in the sale.

Contracting out moving and irrigation would cost in excess of $250,000 if the 187-acre facility were left as open space, and would cost even more if Sunset Whitney was kept as a golf course, the release said.

The club’s need for repair is clear to visitors, and Gibson was open about its state when seeking permission to build houses on the property. His development proposal was unanimously rejected by the Rocklin City Council.

“Everything being mentioned in the press release (regarding) operational and mechanical changes is everything I’ve been saying for years,” he said. “Now people know I haven’t been lying or embellishing, but that doesn’t help us with our situation now.”

Woodman said the city had not fully realized the extent of repairs needed when its letter of intent was filed.

Rocklin would have had a long list of options for the club if the city had reached an agreement with Gibson. Citizens and businesses have asked for equestrian courses, tennis courts, nature paths and much more.

Despite rejecting Gibson’s proposal to build 38 homes adjacent to the course, the city considered authorizing “long-term minimal development options” on the property after purchasing it, according to the release.

Horst did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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