Farmington council holds off again on demolishing clubhouse, other buildings

Ordinance addressing former golf course property heads to final reading in October

NWA DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE/DAVID GOTTSCHALK A sign for the city of Farmington is seen in this 2016 file photo.

FARMINGTON -- A city ordinance that calls for demolishing the clubhouse and outbuildings for the former Valley View golf course will continue another month.

The City Council voted 4-2 on Sept. 11 to place the ordinance on its second reading, meaning it will come up for resolution one way or the other at the council's Oct. 9 meeting.

Council members Diane Bryant, Brenda Cunningham, Sherry Mathews and Kara Gardenhire voted in favor of placing the ordinance on second reading. Council members Bobby Morgan and Hunter Carnahan voted against the motion. Keith Lipford and Linda Bell were absent from the meeting.

The ordinance orders the owners of the buildings -- Joseph and Jennifer Stewart and Kenneth and Melissa Lipsmeyer -- to raze the structures at 11520 Clubhouse Parkway in Valley View Estates. The ordinance says work has to begin within 10 days and be completed within 30 days.

The ordinance describes the structures as "unfit for human uses," dangerous and a hazard to safety or health because of abandonment, inadequate maintenance and dilapidation in violation of city ordinances.

Kenneth Lipsmeyer once again addressed the council about the property during the Sept. 11 meeting. He provided an update on the property, though he did not have any firm details on what could happen in the future with it.

Lipsmeyer said the pool has been drained and a fence is being installed to keep the property secure, especially from children in the neighborhood. He said the inside had been cleaned up and all the debris would be taken away.

Lipsmeyer said he has three proposals for the clubhouse, adjacent structures and the two nearby ponds. He said his understanding is that all three proposals are separate proposals with one possibly a plan for the building to be refurbished for community activities. He said he could not give any more information.

Lipsmeyer also said there's a possibility the rest of the former golf course will be purchased, but he did not go into specifics about such a proposal or offer.

Council members asked Lipsmeyer about a time frame, and he replied that he hoped it "would all happen very soon," adding he thinks something "will be in the works in the next 30-45 days."

Lipsmeyer has described himself as a "silent partner" for the property. Gardenhire asked him if the other property owner was in agreement with selling the buildings and land, and Lipsmeyer replied in the affirmative

Mayor Ernie Penn opened the floor to public comment or questions, and several Valley View residents said they wanted the council to wait on demolishing the buildings.

Ty Fawley asked Lipsmeyer to clean up outside the buildings, along with cleaning up the insides. The outside is what residents in Valley View see, and "it's a mess," Fawley said.

"For crying out loud, have a sense of community and mitigate some of the eyesore that is there now," Fawley said.

He also wondered if the proposals were "real" or just something that came up in conversation or over a cup of coffee.

Fawley said he preferred for the former clubhouse to be refurbished and maintained, not torn down.

Another resident, A.J. Adkins, wondered if some of the land could be donated to the city for a park or the building used as a satellite office.

Lisa Henson said she had lived in Valley View for more than three years and commented on the beauty of the area. Her comment was that if there was a "shred of hope" the buildings could be saved, then they should be.

Her husband, Hal Henson, also asked the council to give Lipsmeyer more time to come up with a proposal for the property in the future.

Guy Smith, however, said he did not understand why the city would give Lipsmeyer more time.

"These guys can't even commit to mowing twice a year," Smith said, referring to an agreement the property owners have reached with the city to mow the land twice a year.

Smith noted the September deadline for mowing was coming up and there had not been a mower in sight.

Lipsmeyer returned to the podium following public comment and said the three proposals are "real offers."

He offered to listen to anyone's complains and said he would take any action as best he could.

After listening to everyone, Penn said he wanted to make a comment.

"We've been dealing with this golf course for five years," Penn said, specifically referring to problems with tall grass on the former course and the condition of the clubhouse.

Penn said he was not going to leave the Valley View residents in a lurch.

"We need to come to an end," Penn said.

Lipsmeyer said he would get with Floyd Shelley, public works manager, to make sure the land is mowed per the agreement and also would set up a time for the city building official, Rick Bramall, to inspect the buildings after everything has been cleaned up and hauled off.

Other business

In other action, the council:

Approved a resolution waiving requirements of competitive bidding for site work for a fire training facility to be built on the Public Works property on Broyles Avenue. The resolution authorizes Southern Building Services of West Fork to do the site work for an amount not to exceed $159,000. The company gave the lowest quote of three companies contacted for a price. A soil test showed that most of the current soil on the site will have to be removed and replaced to make the structure stable. Southern Building also constructed the citys public works building.

Approved a motion acknowledging the presentation of the city audits for years 2021 and 2022. The audits did not have any findings or deficiencies or financial or accounting issues, according to City Clerk Kelly Penn.