As I read the open letter from Morley Alperstein calling on the Village of Wellington to purchase the Binks Forest golf course (Letters, Sept. 18), I recalled those days many years ago when Mr. Alperstein championed the effort to allow for the rezoning of the course’s driving range.
Longtime Wellington residents will recall that the course had become a snake-and-rat-infested hazard eyesore. The only remedy, claimed the course’s new owner, was to allow townhomes to be built on the driving range land. The profit from building and selling these townhomes, he claimed, was the only way the company could afford to bring the course back to its former glory. The other option, he hinted, was to let the course languish forever, with knee-high weeds, vermin and all of the other things that the residents of Binks Forest had been forced to live with for years.
I was skeptical and spoke up, only to have the index finger of one Mrs. Morley Alperstein jabbed into my face while she called me a “jerk.” What had I done or said to elicit such a response? I wanted some assurance from the course owner that if the village did, indeed, allow the rezoning to happen, that we, the residents, would be assured that the course would remain viable. “I can offer no such assurance,” was the reply from the attorney representing the new owners. Undeterred, and sure that his was the only way, Mr. Alperstein led a petition drive, securing enough support from the communities surrounding the course to give the council cover.
The rezoning was approved, with no assurance that the course would be viable, for even one day. So, the course’s owners got what they wanted. Mr. Alperstein, it seemed, got what he wanted. I understand that he was even one of the first in line to purchase a lifetime membership. And the village got to close the books (at least for a while) on a very sore topic.
What did the rest of us get? A “cow pasture” that bears a slight resemblance to a golf course, now on the brink of demise once again. What about that profit from the sale of townhomes, which was so vital to the revitalization of the golf course?
The land that was once a driving range was broken off from the rest of the course and sold to a new developer; one who, it seems, has no interest in bringing the golf course back to its heyday. So much for the entire stated purpose of rezoning the driving range — to save the course.
Let’s recap, shall we? The course’s owner tricked the village into rezoning the driving range (but not really, since their lawyer was very upfront about “no promises”) by making what sounded like a promise to use the profit from the rezoning to bring the golf course back to its former glory. Mr. Alperstein, thanks to his petition drive, was the temporary hero… A new developer gets to build townhomes on the property. (They’re smaller, and not quite as nice as they promised to win the rezoning approval; but who’s keeping track of all of the half-truths at this point?) The golf course owners now have a playbook about how to coerce the council into abandoning its long-term PUD, which may come in handy when the next round of what might be called “extortion” begins.
And what did the residents who live around the golf course get out of this deal? We got nothing, except a change in our PUD allowing our single-family neighborhood to become a mixed-use community.
Now Mr. Alperstein is leading the charge to have the village purchase the course so it won’t close and his property value won’t be hurt. I guess his original plan did not pan out. It seems he never saw this double-cross coming. I won’t say I told you so, Mr. Alperstein. That might make me sound like a “jerk.”
Bill Underwood, Wellington