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Deer Lake Golf Course faces uncertain future

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Deer Lake Golf Course has not reopened for the 2011 season, and its out-of-state owners are leaving golfers, tournament organizers, homeowners and a contracted staff member in the dark.

The northwest Springfield course has operated under new ownership for the past year.
In March 2010, Tulsa, Okla.-based Deer Lake Partners LLC paid $3.5 million for the 18 hole course, its 80-acre subdivision and an adjacent 107 acres of undeveloped land – enticed by a 1,600-foot well on the site.

The course remained operational under a lease agreement with former course general manager Noel Spering and partners. That lease expired Dec. 3, according to former course superintendent Doug Berzack.

Today, Deer Lake’s phone number is disconnected and e-mails sent through www.deerlakegolf.com are returned undeliverable. The site no longer accepts tee time reservations, and it has no upcoming events listed.

No members of the ownership group returned Springfield Business Journal’s calls seeking comment, and Berzack, now contracted with Deer Lake Partners for security and maintenance services, has failed in his attempts to learn of the course’s fate.

“My expectations were that we would reopen. I have not heard from the owners at all on what their plan is or if they are close to leasing it,” Berzack said, adding that it had been a week since they last spoke. “The grounds are getting to the point where something has to be done one way or another.”

Berzack said on March 29 the course typically opens in April.

“I’m just waiting to hear from them,” he said, noting he had called the owners nearly 10 times attempting to confirm the status of the course.

Under the management of Tulsa developer and P&H Properties owner Robert Phillips, Deer Lake Properties began to seek rezoning of the undeveloped acreage for use as an industrial park in June. At that time, Naturally Iowa Inc. was considered a possible tenant with tentative plans to build a water-bottling facility utilizing the water well.

In October, Naturally Iowa changed its name to Totally Green Inc. after purchasing Totally Green LLC and is now based in Tulsa, Okla., according to a Globe Newswire report. The combination of the two companies is said to produce the first closed-loop composting system, which means that it has the ability to fully compost its water bottles along with food waste, into a liquid effluent, called “compost tea” within 48 hours.

Calls to Totally Green’s CEO William Horner were not returned by press time. Rob Phillips is listed as the president of the company.

Mike Sitton, co-founder of the now dissolved Joplin-based Sitton Motor Lines and a partner in Deer Lake Properties, said the deep well on the undeveloped land was a feature that lead to the purchase of the property, according to Springfield Business Journal archives.
Greene County Planning Board members expressed concern at a June 15 meeting about the new demands Naturally Iowa’s Green Bottle Spring Water would place on the well and tabled an attempt to rezone the property to further examine the issue and a traffic study of the area.

The Greene County Commission on Aug. 2 rezoned the property to light industrial to allow for an industrial park, said Kent Morris, the county’s planning and zoning director and the board’s executive secretary.

“Since that time, there was a little bit of discussion about moving the site for the water plant around on the property, but those discussions never did reach a conclusion and we haven’t heard anything from them since,” Morris said, adding that county planning and zoning officials have not spoken to the property owners since December.

Calls to Phillips seeking comment on the status of development plans were not returned by press time. Both Sitton and Spering also could not be reached.

Susan Wade, public relations manager of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she had not been notified about the status of the golf course. City-run golf courses are typically open year-round, weather permitting.

Deer Lake Partners manager Phillips isn’t new to development in the area. His P&H Properties developed Branson Meadows, a 300-acre mixed-use development between Gretna Road and Shepard of the Hills, according to www.bransonmeadowsdev.com. The development borders Factory Outlet Mall and is home to Branson Mill Craft Village and The Shoppes at Branson Mill.[[In-content Ad]]

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