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UICN acquires Willow Creek deed, seeks public input

Utilities Inc. of Central Nevada announced Monday it had acquired title to the former Willow Creek Golf Course, in addition to cleaning up the ponds from the sewer plant the company outlined plans to hold a public meeting to solicit comments on an overall plan.

UICN was awarded 15 of the 16 parcels, 174 acres, as part of the Caldera P &G bankruptcy in the summer of 2013 to settle $1.7 million in claims. The 9.1-acre clubhouse parcel was acquired by Michael Zucaro, who had a $537,700 claim. The company that received ownership is called UICN Real Estate Holdings Inc.

UICN said it has been actively seeking a resolution to the issues surrounding Willow Creek since it closed in October 2008. The former Willow Creek Golf Course and the Lake View Golf Course, which is still operating, receive treated effluent from the UICN sewer plant at Willow Creek under a tripartite agreement approved in 2000.

“The prior owners of the property ignored their contractual obligations and numerous court orders requiring the ponds to be properly maintained,” UICN President Wendy Barnett said in a prepared statement. “Subsequent bankruptcy declarations by the owners placed the future of the property in limbo until UICN stepped up and was able to strike a deal with the court-appointed trustee.”

“Now that the ownership has been transferred we can remediate the hazards on the property and as always, protect our number one priority, the continued safe and reliable sanitary sewer service to our customers,” Barnett said.

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission last December approved the first phase of the UICN remediation plan, which includes rehabilitating and enlarging an existing receiving pond for recycled effluent; adding a second, overflow pond which will also be used while the first pond is repaired; rehabilitating two pump houses; installing two rapid infiltration basins; replacing 810 feet of pump house discharge pipe and 190 feet of Lakeview golf course discharge pipe.

UICN also plans to remove 143 dead trees, and flag a few trees to protect active bird nesting sites. A dust control pallative will be added and weed abatement.

The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection also approved the UICN plan to remote the potential hazards from the property, remediate the pond and pipe infrastructure.

UICN said the remediation is only subject to approval by Nye County and should be complete by the end of the year. The Fifth District Court had declared the ponds to be an environmental hazard since the closure of the golf course because of the prior golf course owner’s lack of maintenance.

UICN received proposals for water efficient demonstration gardens, walking paths, indigenous landscaping to protect natural habitat and designated bird-watching areas. UICN will hold an “Open Mic Night” at 6 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Mountain Falls Grill Room. Barnett said it will be an open forum for residents to express ideas about the education area.

“We are thrilled that so many groups and individuals in the community have expressed an interest in helping us refocus this property into something everyone can use and be proud of,” Barnett said.

UICN encourages people to submit their suggestions via email to bewatersmart@uiwater.com.

The company will hold a community-wide contest to rename the educational area to be consistent with its new focus of improving the open space in which the community can take pride, UICN said.

Nye County was invited to participate in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan, which called for the county to pay $100,000 to the bankruptcy trustee in exchange for park easements onsix parcels. Nye County would give preferential zoning to the clubhouse parcel. But UICN and the county couldn’t come to terms over language in the easement agreement and Nye County wanted water rights.

An integrated resource plan submitted by UICN was approved by the PUC recently, which outlines their plans for capital improvements over the next three years, it includes $50,000 for a Willow Creek master plan study.

During a hearing by the Public Utilities Commission in November 2013 to solicit public comments over the former golf course, Richard Cantino, a member of the Red Rock Audubon Society, said the course has over 5.22 miles of paved cart paths that can be used for walking trails while ponds and 435 trees on the property attract over 200 species of birds either living or migrating on the former course.

Barnett told attendees at that meeting it would be too expensive for her company to reopen it as a golf course, about $70,000 to rehabilitate just one hole.

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