Club: City didn't finish

CITY HALL — Delays in meeting a deadline for reconstructing the Chevy Chase Country Club have pushed the city into new negotiations with the company, officials said Wednesday.

The two parties had reached an agreement for reconfiguring and then restoring the nine-hole course as part of the $21.5-million replacement of the Chevy Chase reservoir, a portion of which lies underneath the green.

The work was to be completed by Friday, but landscaping is incomplete, said Kyle Marshal, the golf course’s superintendent.

City officials said construction delays pushed back the work on the golf course.

An overhaul of the 1920s-era, 14.5-million-gallon reservoir was deemed necessary because cracks in the concrete had significantly compromised the structure’s integrity, especially after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

The country club, which initially protested the project as a business disruption, reached a $2.5-million settlement with the city in 2007 to allow access to the land and pay for the course’s reconfiguration.

Under the settlement between the city and country club, the golf course had to be in playable condition by the end of the year. In September, the project manager pledged the project would meet the deadline, but on Wednesday, golf course management said that has not been the case.

“It’s not playable,” Marshal said. “It kind of looks like it is, but in reality it’s not up to the green speed and the condition it needs to be.”

Peter Kavounas, assistant general manager for Glendale Water & Power, acknowledged additional landscaping work had yet to be finished. He said the city is in talks with the club to extend the city’s lease on the club’s easement, which allows the golf course to lie on a 2.34-acre plot of city-owned property above the reservoir, in order to complete the project.

“The city’s intention is to finish the project, including landscaping, as it was committed to in the original agreement,” he said.

Kavounas attributed the remaining work to unexpected groundwater that delayed construction for several months last year. The contractor, SEMA Construction, was able to make up some of the lost time through weekend work, but the delays pushed the planting of fresh sod, which was then damaged by recent rains.

Kavounas said the delays have been frustrating for all involved.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the reservoir that was originally scheduled for earlier this month has been postponed twice.

The club, which has struggled to maintain and expand membership during the ongoing construction and economic recession, is also under new ownership after its previous owner defaulted on loan payments.

The new owner, Chase Oak Co., had owned the rights to a $5-million loan given to the club’s former owner, JJ Lee Management Co., which defaulted on payments in 2008 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June, according to court records. Chase Oak foreclosed on the property Nov. 20 after a federal judge removed a stay blocking the action.

Company representatives have said they plan to upgrade the facility and continue operating it as a golf course, with no plans for resale.

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