Lehigh Valley

Upper Saucon supervisors mull Locust Valley Golf Club purchase

UPPER SAUCON TWP., Pa. - The potential public purchase of Locust Valley Golf Club remains alive in Upper Saucon in spite of the Board of Supervisors agreeing to defer a final decision Monday.

The supervisors unanimously agreed to continue negotiating a deal for the township to purchase the golf course's development rights.

Property owner Robert Ashford said Monday that he has received numerous development offers for the course and, although he would prefer to have the township purchase the Locust Valley site to preserve the open space, he is running out of time to make a decision.

"We can't invest any more money into the golf course until I know what's happening with it," said Ashford after the board's decision.

According to Ashford, a 2009 appraisal of the property approved by the township assessed its value at $5.3 million. Currently he is seeking roughly $2.2 million from Upper Saucon in the development purchase, which he says could be financed over a 10-year period.

The course owner also added that currently he plans to add a driving range, a restaurant and a parking lot to the property to make it more lucrative and financially sustainable.

Numerous residents spoke during the meeting's public comment period in favor of the development.

"As a resident I think [the purchase] is important for not only having the open space but also to have a gem like Locust Valley [in Upper Saucon]," said local resident Robert Wolfenden.

Board Chairman Stephen Wagner said that although the purchase would result in a tax increase for local residents in the short run, he believes it would ultimately alleviate real estate taxes in the long run.

"If the township were to buy [Locust Valley Golf Club]… I would posit that the real estate taxes would be somewhat lower long term," he said. "It may be a great opportunity to do a lot of good things."

Others though, including Gordon Goldberg, owner of the property adjacent to the golf course, expressed concern that the tax dollars were not worth what he called a "quality of life issue."

"Any decision pertaining to this property will directly impact me and my property," said Goldberg. "I like the idea of open space…but at what cost?"

Following an extended executive session on the matter the board opted to continue negotiations.

After the vote, Ashford said in an interview that with multiple outside offers on the table, he'd only be able to wait until the fall to make a decision.

The Upper Saucon Board of Supervisors will hold its next public voting meeting on August 11.

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