It's a real battle going on between the Creekside Homeowners Association and the owners of the Creekside Golf Club, Larry Tokarski and Terry Kelly.
Recently I came across a May 9, 2018 letter that the Creekside HOA sent to its members, describing what was going on with the Association's fight to prevent the golf course from being turned into a subdivision, as Tokarski and Kelly are trying to do.
All I know about this legal battle is what I've read in several Statesman Journal stories, the titles of which provide a succinct overview of what's going on.
April 2016. Creekside owners threaten to close course
August 2016. 354 homes proposed for Creekside Golf Club property
September 2017. Creekside Golf Club neighbors appeal loss; club owners want $524,860 in legal fees
February 2018. Creekside Golf Club owners sue homeowners association over spending
April 2018. Creekside Homeowners Association owes golf course owners $422, 789 after failed lawsuit
The HOA letter I've shared addresses an issue that I'd wondered about. Since the Creekside Homeowners Association is appealing a legal ruling that gave the golf club owners the right to convert the golf course into a subdivision, why should the $422,789 in legal fees owed to Tokarski and Kelly be paid now?
If the HOA ends up winning its appeal, seemingly they would be the ones owed reimbursement for legal fees, not the Creekside Golf Club owners. (I'm not an attorney, so I might be wrong about this.)
So the letter says:
On March 26, 2018, the Association filed a formal appeal of the supplemental judgment. In order to prevent the golf course owners from collecting the awarded attorney fees and costs while the appeals are ongoing, the Association sought financing to bond the judgment. (If the judgment was not bonded, then the golf course owners could have taken collection actions against the Association to collect on the judgment.) Therefore, in order to bond the judgment, the Board took out a loan of $500,000.00 from NW Bank.
The loan is for a term of 20 years. The collateral pledged to NW Bank is the Association's right to assess the owners if the Association is in default on the loan. If the Association is not in default, then NW Bank cannot take action against or assess the owners. Monthly loan payments are approximately $3,500.00/month.
Here's some thoughts on this fine mess from my position as an interested outside observer.
(1) Tokarski and Kelly are playing hard ball. The Creekside developers must have made a lot of money since the early 1990s, when the Creekside neighborhood began to be built. Yet they're willing to toss away the goodwill of those who bought homes there in order to make even more money by converting the golf course into a subdivision.
Sure, I understand that this is what developers like to do: make money. It just seems to me that given how successful Creekside has been for its developers, they could cut the neighborhood some slack on the golf course conversion.
After all, this is a wetlands area prone to flooding. Likely the City of Salem won't allow them to build as many homes as their initial plans called for (354, according to a Statesman Journal story).
Maybe I'm being unrealistic in suggesting that Tokarski and Kelly could produce a positive legacy by leaving most, or all, of the golf course as open space and/or a park if the golf club truly isn't profitable, instead of engaging in a knock-down, drag-out fight with the Creekside Homeowners Association.
But sometimes realism is a drag.
(2) Suing the HOA over spending money to preserve the golf course property was extreme. What Tokarski and Kelly did when they sued the Creekside Homeowners Association over its spending HOA money to fight Tokarski and Kelly was positively Trumpian.
I say this, because it reminded me of Trump trying to tell Justice Department officials that they shouldn't be conducting an investigation into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia, along with Trump's possible efforts to obstruct that investigation.
Sure, the parallels aren't exact, but a Statesman Journal story said that Tokarski and Kelly had standing to sue the HOA because they are members of it.
Creekside Golf Club’s owners have asked a judge to remove the board of an adjacent homeowners association and put the HOA into receivership.
It’s the latest volley in a two-year legal battle that will decide whether the club’s owners, developers Larry Tokarski and Terry Kelly, can close the South Salem championship course and turn it into a residential subdivision.
The developers say the six members of the Creekside Homeowners Association Board, all of whom own golf course-view homes, illegally used the association’s reserve account to pay for an April 2016 lawsuit alleging the course must remain open indefinitely.
...The lawsuit claims Tokarski and Kelly have the right to sue because they own property in the development, making them members of the homeowners association.
Hmmmm. So Tokarski and Kelly are battling the Creekside Homeowners Association in their effort to convert the golf course into a subdivision. Then Tokarski and Kelly put on their hats as Creekside HOA members to sue the association for spending money on fighting them.
Weird, though legal. It just shows the lengths Tokarski and Kelly are willing to go to get their subdivision built.
(3) There's a certain karmic justice in Jackie Leung's City Council victory. Lastly, I can't help but mention that the recent victory of Jackie Leung over incumbent Steve McCoid in the Ward 4 City Council race has a sort of karmic ring to it. Here's what I mean.
Larry Tokarski has been a substantial contributor to conservative political campaigns in Salem. McCoid, though he billed himself as a moderate, is considerably more conservative than Leung, whose campaign featured a pledge that she'd be tougher on making developers live up to their obligations, and would do her best to prevent the Creekside golf course from becoming a subdivision.
It seems clear to me that Leung got the vote of many, if not most, Creekside residents, or she wouldn't have beaten McCoid. Those voters were turned off by McCoid's support of a Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District that assumed the golf course would become lots which would pay into the District when they were developed.
So this strikes me as a "what goes around, comes around" sort of thing. I'm confident that Tokarski and Kelly would have preferred to see McCoid win, yet their efforts to convert the golf course into a subdivision helped lead to Leung's victory.