Hercules Pitts, owner of Lake Arbor Golf Club and Marlborough Country Club, finally faced the community at a Feb. 17 meeting, but not many of the people in attendance were any more confident after he was done.

Pitts bought Lake Arbor Golf Club in 2005 and Marlborough Country Club in 2006, but both clubs have gone downhill. Now both courses remain closed and have become an eyesore to the community. Donald Morris, who lives near Marlborough Country Club and is the owner of rental properties, say residents have a right to ask that Pitts do something with golf courses immediately.

“If my property becomes unsightly in the community then the people in that community have a right to go to the government and say ‘’Let’s do something about it. Mr. Morris either has to fix up that property or he has to sell it,’” Morris said. “The golf course is basically a crack house right now.”

The issue is so great that Tracy Givens, president of the Villages of Marlborough Homeowners Association, pulled together resources to have people in the community do some landscaping to hide some of the eyesores from view on John Rogers Boulevard, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare.

Tall grass, downed tree limbs, abandoned televisions and pulled copper are just some of the issues residents want fixed. James Flippo Jr., owner of Lasting Impressions, a local landscaping company, says he’s now in charge of the course’s upkeep.

“I can openly tell you that this is not a lost cause,” Flippo said about the golf courses. “This is not that difficult. It’s just that three or four things hit all at one time and no one could really anticipate it.”

Aesthetics is one thing, what will happen to both courses going forward is another. Pitts found an investment group to prevent the courses foreclosesures, but he needs more investors to make improvements. Pitts, however, doesn’t know what improvements he needs to make just yet so he, in conjunction with Flippo, is asking residents to take a online survey at www.get-lilc.com telling him what they’d like to see.

“We’re also going to ask what they would like to see more of and what they would not like to see more of,” Flippo said. “You’ll be able to have spaces to write in what you want to see and what you don’t want to see.”

Pitts is still on shaky ground with not only residents, but politicians as well. State Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters, D.-Dist. 23, visited Marlborough Country Club after hearing complaints from constituents and agreed the condition is unacceptable. He said during the meeting that Pitts needs to give the community a reason to trust him again.

“Coming down here in the summer and seeing the grass with nothing happening and having to use the resources in the county to get it cut goes to credibility,” said Peters. “It’s going to have to build week by week. We have to restore the trust and credibility otherwise it’s going to be hard to dream.”

Peters expressed that there is some interest by the county and state to purchase the courses and operate them in public-private partnership, but Pitts is not yet willing to sell.

Pitts admitted he’d have a clearer direction on what his business plan by June. Both courses will remain closed in 2011.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO