PLANT CITY, Fla. - They planned to spend their golden years golfing on the green in their backyard, but Walden Lake residents say their country club has let its grounds deteriorate to "dangerous" conditions.
"This is on the verge of collapsing," Shelly Orrico said. "See, all these boards are loose and they're rotten."
Orrico and her husband, Dan, a U.S. Army Colonel, bought a home in the Walden Lake Golf and Country Club community so they could grow gray golfing in their own backyard. They even paid a $20,000 premium for a lot that backs right into it. But in the last few years, residents say Visions Golf, the owners, stopped maintaining the grounds. They fear that's caused property values to plummet.
"This used to be a pristine course and now it's closed down," said local resident Sharon Philbin.
On a tour through the grounds, Philbin and Orrico pointed out unmowed grass, exposed electrical wires, and sandtraps filled with weeds. Those conditions, along with an uncertainty about what the owners and the developers have planned for the property, pushed about 100 residents to the HOA's board meeting Monday night.
"All the board members were, and are, aware of the conditions, but you'll either play dumb our you're uncaring," Orrico said in a microphone to the board.
But Monday, the board just listened. Nothing was decided. The HOA's attorney said they are still going over documents and will take the residents concerns into advisement.
But next week, when Orrico's husband, Dan, comes home from deployment, it'll be to an unplayable course and a wife teed up to swing.
"I'm not finished. I'm not going to let this guy destroy everything we worked for for the last 30 years. I'm not going to let it happen," she said.
Residents are signing a petition which they plan to present to the Plant City Commission at their meeting on July 22.
Phone calls and an email to Steve Mercer, the general manager of the country club, were not returned Monday night.