Back in October 2007 a reviewer of the then vibrant West End Golf course left the following comment on golflink.com, “Best shape in years. Also enjoy playing at night…it’s cool that Gainesville has a night course.”
Seven years later, another golfer on that site left this review of the 18-hole course located at 12830 W. Newberry Road across from Tioga Town Center, “Had a great time once again, fast greens, was surprised!”
Fast forward to 2020, more than a year after the West End course was shut down by Owner Paul Min and the reviews of the course aren’t coming from any golfers. They are coming from adjacent residents in the form of code violation reports to the Alachua County Growth Management department.
One violation report filed on Sept. 9, 2020 reads, “Club house left open (back door) with merchandise inside. No alarm. Accumulating garbage around building. Dead trees on ground. I don’t believe the owner has been to the property since he closed it. Theft hazard, fire hazard and very ugly to look at.”
Another report filed three weeks later on Sep. 29th reads, “I live at the Villas of West End in Newberry and I’m deeply concerned about the fact no one is taking care of the West End Golf course that my home butts up on. The overgrowth and the amount of snakes that are there is not a good thing. There is a very tall and very dead tree in the back of my villa on their property that is scary, and if it falls, it could land on my home or my neighbors. Something must be done about the disgusting overgrown lot. Thank you.”
According to Alachua County Code Enforcement Officer Christopher Barnes, who inspected the front of the property to follow up on complaints made about trash accruing and building neglect on Oct. 9th, there’s a lot of complaints about the 75-acre recreational parcel that the County can’t address.
“A lot of things that we have to deal with out here, we can’t access because we’d be trespassing,” he said.
Barnes said that previous reports of the building being broken into and trash on the property have been addressed, but upon inspection on Oct. 9th, more beer cans and trash has shown up in the golf cart shed and two children’s car seats have been dumped in the 3-foot tall weeds, along with more beer cans.
From the parking lot you can see fallen live oak heritage trees in the distance.
According to Barnes, code enforcement can’t just go on a property and start inspecting without permission from the owner.
“It’s only what you can see from the driveway,” he said. “And that hinders us.”
Barnes took photos of the trash that could be considered a hazard and will ask the property owner to remove that.
“If there’s not any immediate danger, there’s really not a lot of pressure for them (property owners) to clean things up,” he said about the overgrowth of 6-feet tall weeds throughout the 18-hole facility that is surrounded by homes that were purchased at premium prices to have a view of the course.
Those same home owners at Villages of West End and surrounding developments are fighting a rezoning application made by a prospective developer who wants to infill the greens with 487 homes and apartment buildings.
The current owner, Peter Min, has a for sale sign out front with his photo on it representing Pepine Realty, and has not returned requests for comment on the status of the neglected property.
Barnes suggested that a commercial or residential overgrowth ordinance for the unincorporated areas of Alachua County would be helpful in these situations.
“That would keep our area beautiful.”
From this inspection, Barnes said he will recommend a trash cleanup and will contact the owner about the residents’ concerns about the fallen trees, overgrowth and an increase in the snake population.
“If they are trying to sell the property or get someone to take it over, you’d think they would take care of it,” Barnes said about the current rundown state of the property.
“Gainesville was well known for this golf course, and it was well maintained,” he added. “People would come here from Marion County to play.”
The only violation the County can address other than trash or hazards, is if trees are infringing or falling on adjacent properties within the zoning buffer or right of way which is usually about 15 feet between property edges.
Barnes said any reported violations need to be well described and include an address or they can’t be processed. Photos can be added to the reports as well.
Barnes thinks people might be parking on the side of the property and tossing beer cans in the weeds in the same location where two car seats were tossed.
“From a safety standpoint, this has the potential to become a problem if someone doesn’t come and secure the property.” he said.