Even with Monday's snowfall, it's not too late to winterize the Jeremy Ranch Golf Club course and ensure the greens and tees will be playable next summer for members and the Jeremy's annual Showdown Classic tournament.
That's the assurance of Cary D. Jones, a Salt Lake attorney whose firm, Hansen & Anderson, represents some 750 golf club members who are fighting to retain their rights in the club located near Parley's Summit in Summit County."They've already blown out the water system," said Jones, "now they need to fungicide the greens and tees. They can easily blow (the snow) off those areas to get it done." He estimates the total cost at $15,000-$20,000.
Jones said the owners have to make it happen. The members have offered put up the money, he said, "but we don't know if they want it."
Jeremy Services Corp. is general partner and manages the property for The Jeremy Ltd., the partnership that owns the 20,000-acre golf course, club house/restaurant and support facilities. Jeremy Services shut down the operation Oct. 25 and terminated all but a skeleton crew of employees, saying there were insufficient funds to keep it going.
Virginia Beach Federal Savings Bank, the lender (with two other participating banks) on the property, threatened a foreclosure sale.
That action, said Jones, could result in members - some of whom have paid as much as $75,000 for memberships - losing all of their rights in the golf club.
"They (Jeremy Ltd. and the bank) want to foreclose, close out all the memberships and have a golf course unencumbered to market to a third party," said Jones.
To prevent that, a group of members asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Utah to order Jeremy Ltd. into a Chapter 11 reorganization. Last Thursday the court granted the members' petition for approval to extend credit to Jeremy Ltd. to winterize the course.
Judge Judith A. Boulden said she wouldn't require the partnership to borrow the money but if they didn't, it could indicate that Jeremy Ltd. was not acting independently of the bank. In that event, the judge indicated she may reconsider naming a trustee to take control of the property.
Another hearing will be held Friday morning in Judge Boulden's chambers in which Virginia Beach Federal will again attempt to foreclose on the property.
"Our contention is that Jeremy Ltd. and Virginia Beach is essentially the same entity, so the bank really doesn't have a lien on the property because the owner and the lender are the same," said Jones.
Jones said the members make that claim based on their assertion that Bill Blair, president of Jeremy Services, was connected with the lenders when Virginia Beach took over from original developer, Dr. Gerald Bagley, in 1984.
"The bank put their (representative) in as general partner and they've been running the golf course . . . through their general partner," said Jones. "We claim they weren't loans (that Virginia Beach made) but capital contributions to the general partner."
Jones said members were willing to allow foreclosure if their rights were not prejudiced. "We want to come up with a plan to preserve the course as profitable and preserve members' rights," he said.
Of the 750 memberships, some were "honorary." Jones estimates there are about 600 "real" memberships. How were they acquired? "In as many ways as there are stars in the sky," he quipped. In the early stages of development, Bagley sold so-called "founders" memberships for $25,000 to $75,000 that were supposedly for life and required no monthly dues.
Other dues-paying memberships were sold for $3,000 to $5,000. Jeremy Ltd. also allegedly issued some "founders" memberships but now apparently disavows them. According to Jones, the man who did snow removal and groomed the cross country ski course was issued 16 such memberships. "They are worthless," said Jones.
The members contend that the golf club can still be run profitably as a private course and as an incentive for marketing building lots. "It's just been mismanaged," said Jones. "It needs to have someone come in and manage it professionally instead of for the benefit of the bank."
Jones said the members want a plan of reorganization that would reconstitute all the memberships on some kind of new basis in which everyone would pay dues and perhaps even put up some new capital. He believes enough new memberships should be created to at least market the remaining unsold building lots that have been platted.
"Our biggest problem is we haven't had access to the books and records of the golf course," said Jones. "Virginia Beach says nothing will work (to reorganize the club) and maybe we'll agree, but we say show us some evidence of that."