SPARTA, NJ – The Lake Mohawk Country Club members voted to sell parcels of land currently designated as parks within the Lake Mohawk reservation. On July 19, at a Special Meeting at the Lake Mohawk Country Club, members had a chance to speak on the topic and cast their votes.
Members were able to vote in person with paper ballots, online and by absentee ballot. Gregory Yuskaitis, Board of Trustees President presented information about the Capital Reserve Fund and the benefits of selling the parks.
The country club’s attorney Megan Ward announced the results of the voting. The first ballot was approved by a ten-vote margin; 165 yes to 155 no votes. The vote gives the trustees the authority to sell “properties located at 768 and 779 West Shore Trail at the South Gate that were originally part of Hemlock Park and 186 West Shore Trail/31 Woodbine Terrace, that is the top part only of Toboggan Park.”
Barbara Wortmann, Lake Mohawk Country Club General Manager said they expect one home to be built on each parcel. Wortman said they do not yet know how much money will be raised through the sale of the land.
The second ballot was not approved. The vote was 193 nos to 122 yeses. The property located off Summit Road known as Alpine field will not be sold. Had it been successful, the intention was to create a cul de sac for five new homes according to the trustees.
The trustees put the measure before the membership in an effort to raise money for the Capital Reserve Fund. The process to sell the properties was initially begun in April 2016. The Title Company raised concern that member approval could be required prior to the sale of the properties. The trustees finally determining a vote would be the best way to handle the issue.
The trustees also identified three recreation areas they deemed to be underused by the members. They asked the members that benefited the most from properties on Rainbow Trail, Lakeview-Hillside Terrace and Alpine Field to form organizations to show that the areas were being used and cared for according to minutes of their meetings.
According to the trustees, only Alpine Field failed to be supported by members as a recreation area. That led to the property’s inclusion as the second ballot. An organization did form in time to recruit enough support to stop the Alpine Field question from passing.
The Alpine Field organization put together a facebook page, petition and power point presentation, all aimed at stopping the parcel from being sold. Alyse Gabay presented at the special meeting on behalf of the Save Alpine Field group. They are proposing, among other things, creating a community garden on the land.
In Gabay’s presentation she said in two weeks the facebook group gained 269 followers, Change.org petition had 145 signatures in less than a week and 98 signatures on a paper petition. They also had received a letter of support from the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club.
The trustees have said members will face a special assessment to fully fund the Capital Reserve Fund. In the absence of any other funding, such as the sale of the parcels of land, the members will be required to pay an additional $12.50 per month for six years. According to the trustees, any additional funds from the proceeds of the property sale would shorten the duration of the special assessment.
Earlier in the year, the Lake Mohawk Country Club sought approval from the Sparta Planning Board to charge a fee for parking in the lot adjacent to the clubhouse. Income generated from the fees were to pay for improvements and repairs to the lot as well as help to fund the Capital Reserve Fund.
At the March Sparta Planning Board meeting the matter went for a vote resulting in a tie, defeating the plan. According to Wortman, plans to pursue litigation over the matter “are in the discussion stages.”
In April the country club filed suit against the planning board and Councilman Jerry Murphy over the issue. The complaint seeks to eliminate Murphy’s vote because of comments he made prior to casting his vote. They also ask to be reimbursed for expenses and fees.