Residents still seeking answers in Country Club development

ESCONDIDO — Development around the defunct Escondido Country Club is moving at a snail’s pace.

Three weeks ago New Urban West Inc. (NUWI), the development firm now planning to build on the old golf course, held an open house to update residents about the project.

Comment cards were passed along to residents, but conflicting reports about what information was received is generating buzz and uncertainty.

Escondido Country Club Homeowners (ECCHO) President Mike Slater said no plans were delivered during the meeting and the only visible development was a clubhouse.

According to numerous residents, the company said it had a 4:1 ratio in favor of their plans. However, Slater disputed those claims and said no renderings or drawings, other than a clubhouse, were presented.

According to the ECCHO website, the group will receive the comment cards and in turn, provide at least 100 emails contradicting NWUI’s claims of such wide spread support.

“They had an open house that was very lacking in substance,” Slater said. “They didn’t have the number of homes or the type they would be. There really was no project for the community to be yes or no on.”

A statement from NUWI said it has developed a concept plan based on community resident feedback. NUWI also said it met with 350 resident over 39 meetings to gather input about what is desired and valued to their community.

Based on more than 400 surveys, after the open house, combined with site planning and financial analysis, NUWI will share with the community later this month how the long-term maintenance of the greenbelt and the amenities as well as the amount of park acreage to be set aside will result in the number of homes needed to make the project viable. 

“From the outset, our goal has been to create a plan that would help restore the community pride and prestige,” the statement read. “Our hope is that we can forge a path that is desirable to residents who live in the community and is financially viable. 

“To determine how many new homes will be needed to make the project financially viable, we also surveyed the community at the open house about their receptivity to funding the long-term ongoing maintenance of these amenities, especially the green belt that would benefit those currently residing on the former golf course property the most.”

The two sides, though, have been in discussions about how to proceed and what amenities, if any, are needed in addition to the number of homes NUWI can afford to build, Slater said.

Special assessments may be required if fewer homes are built, but if not, then more residences will be constructed. Slater said it’s a Catch-22.

“They are saying things like if you want these amenities, then we will have special assessments,” Slater explained. “Most people are saying they are unsure.”

In addition, a linear park around the development has also been proposed and the remaining 110 acres would possibly consist of homes, clubhouse, restaurant and a pool.

Despite the gap between the two sides, Slater said NUWI has been involved with the community about their intentions. Still, the differences remain and Slater said if the new developer can get the residents on board, it would make for a smooth transition.

Still, he figured the open house might have been an attempt by NUWI to feel out the situation and whether it would make for a good investment.

“I would say the community is frustrated,” Slater added. “They are still waiting to see what they are doing. They aren’t against the project, but saying there is no project. New Urban West is trying to work with the community and they have a history of that. In a baseball analogy, I would say we are in the first inning.”

NUWI has an agreement to purchase the land from Stuck in Rough owner Michael Schlesinger after a settlement agreement with the city of Escondido. Schlesinger had a contentious relationship with the residents and was fined for dumping chicken manure on the golf course after a battle over the development.

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