Mountain Springs Golf Course in Sonora is closed this month for maintenance and repairs ahead of a potential sale to a local Native American tribe.

Club members received a letter dated Dec. 28 from Kim Daters, managing partner of Mountain Springs Development, LLC, announcing the course would be closed for the month of January.

“As most of you know, we are in negotiations with the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians regarding a potential sale of the golf course,” Daters stated in the opening of the letter. “When we are able, we will notify you that a final agreement has been reached and will provide you with more details on a potential transfer.”

The letter went on to state that the golf course, driving range, and clubhouse would be closed for the month to “help with repairs, maintenance, and potential sale.”

Daters declined to comment on the letter at this time when contacted by The Union Democrat on Wednesday.

No one from the tribe responded to requests for comment as of Wednesday afternoon.

The gate to the course’s entrance road was closed and padlocked on Wednesday, with a sign hanging over the front that stated the course, driving range, and clubhouse “are closed the month of January for repairs and maintenance,” though there is no mention of a potential sale.

An answering service is currently taking calls for the course’s main phone number and informing people that it’s scheduled to re-open on Feb. 1.

Dave Redfern, of Redwood City, said he’s a regular annual user of the course and eagerly anticipates its reopening.

Redfern said he’s played at the course several times a year since he purchased a home in Twain Harte in 2007.

“It’s been a favorite spot for myself, son-in-law and grandkids,” he said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Redfern said he also brings a group of about eight to 12 seniors to play at the course and others in the area for several days each year. He’s hoping the course will be open for this year’s trip in April or May.

“Everybody loves the course,” he said.

The 18-hole course opened in 1990 and was designed by the late Robert Muir Graves, a noted landscape architect who designed more than 75 golf courses mostly in the western United States.

The course has long been envisioned to serve as the centerpiece of an approved 600-home residential community covering a total of 1,076 acres off Lime Kiln Road, about three miles south of downtown Sonora.

Developers tried for decades to get the community built but were met with opposition along the way.

The original plan was to build more than 2,000 homes surrounding the course, but the number was reduced to 600 due to the opposition and threats of lawsuits.

A community plan for Mountain Springs was included as part of the recently approved comprehensive update to the county’s General Plan, which sets goals and policies for growth and development over a 20-year planning window.

Quincy Yaley, assistant director of the county Community Resources Agency, said at a Tuolumne County Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 19 that the Mountain Springs community plan was adopted by the board when it approved the overall project in October 2008.

Yaley said the purpose of including Mountain Springs as part of the update to the General Plan is so that there will be a community plan in place should the project occur.

The tribe also planned to develop a golf course abutted by a 69-lot residential subdivision on the 191-acre former West Side Lumber and Flume Co. property off Tuolumne Road that it purchased in 2002.

All of the development plans for the tribe’s property are approved and ready to move forward, but the project has been plagued by setbacks, including the 2008 housing market crash followed by the drought for 2011 to 2017.

Part of the reason for the slow progress has involved engineering a fix to an unstable dam that held back water in the lumber company’s former mill pond on the property.

The tribe has turned to hosting events on the property in recent years, including the Strawberry Music Festival in the fall and a summer concert series that launched last year.

Strawberry Music Festival organizers recently announced that the festival would not be hosted at the Westside property this fall due to anticipated work that would restore the reservoir on the property.

Organizers say the plan is for the festival to return to the property for Labor Day weekend 2020.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com
or (209) 588-4530.

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