RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Just one week after a suspicious fire burned up the clubhouse at Club Rio Rancho, the owner is offering more than half of the property to the city for free. But Rio Rancho’s mayor says the deal isn’t as sweet as it sounds.
“We’ve just been not too sure about what’s gonna happen with the golf course,” said Sandy Aschenbrenner, whose property borders on the golf course.
After years of money problems, the golf course is nothing more than a field of weeds. Following last week’s fire, people who live near Club Rio Rancho feel like the property is cursed.
“It was pretty nice…tennis courts swimming pool, nice clubhouse, and so my thought was whoever does develop it, they have a nice clubhouse…but now that’s gone,” said Rusty Dils, who also lives near the golf course.
The former owner, Jhett Brown, was in a world of debt. Then in 2017, Joshua Skarsgard bought the property to build homes on nine holes of it, then either restore the other 18 holes, or turn it into open space.
Friday, he offered the land that was scheduled to be an 18 hole golf course to the city as a “charitable donation.”
“I think it’s awesome. I can’t believe this is happening because it’s wonderful,” said Aschenbrenner.
Neighbors who KRQE News 13 spoke to, are thrilled.
“That’s great that he’s willing to do that,” said Dils.
This comes just one week after the clubhouse suddenly caught fire in the early evening. But there is a big catch with this proposal. The land where the clubhouse burned, Skarsgard wants to be commercial property.
Also, all the infrastructure costs would be at the city’s expense. The city says while the headline looks great, the details are not.
Residents just want something positive done with the land.
“I think it’s awesome. I hope the city takes up the offer, and I think it’s a generous offer,” said Aschenbrenner.
Mayor Hull’s full statement can be found below:
I have not yet received the letter from Josh Skarsgard, but I did receive a copy via a media source, which is consistent with the way Mr. Skarsgard has conducted business with the City over the last several years. I feel that Mr. Skarsgard’s offer of a 190-acre charitable donation is very misleading. This property would not be “free” because it would entail large financial burdens (millions of taxpayer dollars) for our 100,000 Rio Rancho residents. These burdens would include environmental remediation, premise liability, and infrastructure replacement and repair, to name a few. Additionally, the original property was 270 acres, leaving 80 acres, 70 acres have been rezoned for residential development, and 10 acres, where the now destroyed clubhouse resides, have been withheld for Mr. Skarsgard’s financial gain. I would hope this offer is not a way for Mr. Skarsgard to sidestep his responsibility for maintaining this property and bringing it into compliance, which he has neglected to do over the past three years. At this point, the City has not received an official land donation offer and, therefore, there is nothing for the Governing Body to consider at this time.–Mayor Gregg Hull