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Holmes Harbor Sewer District eyes Freeland golf course purchase

The Holmes Harbor Sewer District is making another effort to purchase the defunct golf course it wants to keep its state sewer permit in order.

Stan Walker, president of the district board, said board members will travel to Bellevue on Thursday, Jan. 3, for an executive session with their attorney, Rodney Kasaguma. That afternoon ratepayers and other members of the public will be informed of the possibilities at a public meeting at 5 p.m. at the sewer district headquarters, located on Chip Shot Lane off Honeymoon Bay Road.

The 18-hole golf course is presently owned by businessmen Kevin Hanchett and Mike Cooper, according to Walker. They purchased the troubled facility in July 2011 from Holmes Harbor Community Partners, which closed the course in March 2010.

This isn’t the first time the sewer district has pursued the purchase of the golf course. It made an offer in 2010, but lost out to Hanchett, who at the time had a business called Onyxx Capital 1.

Now, Walker said Friday, Hanchett has offered to sell the golf course grounds and the sewer district is considering the proposal. The clubhouse and associated marina on Holmes Harbor probably aren’t part of the contemplated deal, but Walker wouldn’t take anything totally off the table. “All of these things are interrelated, so to say ‘we’d have nothing to do with it’ is a slight stretch,” he said.

Walker, who has served on the board for 10 years, clearly wasn’t ready to talk about details Friday. “The only information I really have is the owner has offered to sell the fairway portion to the sewer district and we’re in the process of considering that offer,” he said.

The sewer district owns a water treatment plant. Treated water is dispersed on the golf course grounds where it is used for irrigation.

Without the golf course dispersal site, the district would lose its permit to operate from the Department of Ecology, Walker said. “That’s how our system works, without it we wouldn’t have a sewer system.”

He estimated the district serves 375 homeowners. The golf course area is one of the more densely populated parts of South Whidbey.

If the district purchases the golf course, Walker said the goal would be to reopen the golf course and make enough money to pay for mowing and maintenance of the irrigation system. He estimated the cost at up to $75,000 annually, adding that the sewer district would not try to operate a golf course.

“The sewer district is not in the golf course operation business. That’s one of the issues,” Walker said.

There are rumors that Hanchett has said he will not mow the course beginning in 2013, but Walker wouldn’t address the issue. “I don’t have time to comment on rumors,” he said. However, keeping the grounds mowed is required by the ecology permit.

Although the district apparently has the money to purchase the property at a price Walker declined to disclose, he freely admitted there would be no financial certainties.

“That’s what we need to talk about,” he said. “There’s always advantages and disadvantages to everything.”

Hanchett had planned to open the course after he purchased it, but never achieved that goal.

Walker did not predict a decision would be made following Thursday’s public presentation, but he didn’t rule it out, either. “We’ll tell the public what we’re thinking,” he said.

The other commissioners are Meg Wingard, Bill O’Donnell, Bob Miller and Tom White.

Hanchett did not immediately return a phone call asking for comment Friday.

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