Some members of Hidden Creek Country Club, a 163-acre private country club, are vexed about “deplorable” conditions at the 163-acre private country club, which could be redeveloped into a 100-acre grand park with residential housing.
Issues with maintenance and upkeep of the club, which was established in 1963, have become a flashpoint in the public debate about whether or not redevelopment of the property, which was purchased by Wheelock Communities for $14 million in October last year, is warranted. Some worry maintenance issues signal ownership is unwilling to explore an option on the table: maintaining the country club in its traditional form.
A mid-September letter signed by 104 members demanded that management increase the number of staff, fix bathrooms, improve routine maintenance, fix a broken beverage cart and host a meeting to reiterate the company’s commitment to the club so long as the golf course remains a golf course and membership dues are collected.
In a letter responding to members, Wheelock said it is committed to maintaining the club and golf course, noting that the company has invested more than $300,000 in upgrades to the Roanoke Grill, tavern, Fairway room, lobby, and locker rooms. An additional $200,000 was invested to continuously repair the facility. Company representatives also noted that they will continue to keep the club’s membership informed and involved in discussions about the club’s redevelopment — discussions which several members have been a part of since Wheelock purchased Hidden Creek.
“The Club Management is in close contact with us on an ongoing basis. We are aware of the punch list items of needed repairs for the clubhouse as well as maintenance needs for the golf course,” the letter states.
Eric Levin, the club’s general manager, told Reston Now that management was aware of issues flagged by members and was working diligently to address them prior to receiving the letter. This year’s summer weather was also the “most extreme” in many years, leading to poor playing conditions, Levin wrote in an email.
“We have been working tirelessly to rectify the issues outlined. The owners have invested over $500,000 to this point in 2018 with another $200,000+ scheduled over the next few months on both the Clubhouse and the Golf Course,” Levin wrote.
Steve Coniglio, Wheelock’s local partner, declined to comment on a request from Reston Now, noting that he did not believe it was appropriate to turn the issue into a public matter.
“As a private country club, I am happy to provide this information to our members,” Coniglio wrote in an email.
Some members, many of whom have been a part of the club for more than 10 years, are still not satisfied. As stated in the letter, they have threatened to post negative reviews on social media about the golf course, absent progress on maintenance and staffing issues.
One member, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to preserve membership status, told Reston Now that conditions are the club have dipped to a new low.
“People think they’re not putting any money into this golf course. There’s a business case that you can’t support a country club in this economic environment. But there are half a dozen golf course communities that are thriving and commanding just enough money. That can happen here too,” the member told Reston Now. “There are some really good employees and people who work there. We want this place to thrive.”
The letter, which was obtained by Reston Now by a signatory, highlights issues like downed trees, irregular moving, inconsistent trash collection, downed and dead trees and poorly maintained bathrooms. It suggests hiring at least four employees to help with maintenance.
“We want so badly to take pride in Hidden Creek. We see it as our home away from home. We would much rather post positive reviews… before we recommend Hidden Creek to the world, we need the conditions to improve,” the letter states.
Although the company has not filed formal development plans with the county, Wheelock is exploring redeveloping the private country club into a 100-acre public park with amenities and an undisclosed number of residential units.
Redeveloping the property would require a number of changes to county planning documents, which designate the property for private recreational use. Rescue Reston, a grassroots group which successfully fought against the redevelopment of Reston’s other golf course, has committed to opposing any redevelopment plans.
Photos via Hidden Creek Country Club member