Ownership issue addressed by Quail Valley residents
By Elsa Maxey
Too many different answers on the same questions about the 8th hole on Quail Valley’s Golf Course … “First the city owns the lake, then the city doesn’t own the lake. Makes you wonder if anyone in city hall has a clue as to what is really the case. I guess it depends on who you ask,” said Missouri City resident Deborah Jackson.
Jackson is concerned about the lake at the city’s golf course on the 8th hole that “will look horrible and our property values will dive, not to mention trying to sell a home with back property like that.”
Jackson, who has lived in Quail Valley for five years, and long-term resident Ed Powell along with others in the neighborhood are concerned about the state of the lake, as is Charles Butera, who heads the Quail Valley Fund that serves as a point of contact between the neighborhood and the city. The current drought conditions are clearly to blame for the dry lake “quickly becoming an eye sore to those who live on it,” says Jackson.
The lake does not have a natural water source and relies on rain for a sustainable water level, according to city information. Particularly at this time, the state has advised local entities to conserve water supplies due to the worst drought in 40 years currently occurring in Texas. Governor Rick Perry recently told Texans to pray for rain, coincidentally the same expression Mayor Allen Owen used as part of an explanation to a resident about how to get water back into the city’s lakes.
But the dry lake condition addressed by the residents has been a concern since January, when the city was contacted. “We have any number of inquiries on this,” said City Manager Frank Simpson in response to the “Star’s” query last week. The “lake behind # 8 we understood to be the lake behind the green of #8,” stated Simpson in an email to Quail Valley Fund’s Butera. “If that is the lake Ms. Jackson is referring to, then the City does not own it. If she was referring to the lake that is next to the #8 tee, then the City does own that.”
Jackson says, “I think at this point, I just simply want a clear cut answer as to who owns the lake and who is to take responsibility for it.” But, ownership of the lake really does not matter in relation to why the water level remains down, according to city accounts which also indicate that lake water level concerns have been raised over the past 20 years, and a 2009 study it commissioned addressed a water balancing analysis about this recurring condition.
As for the property by the 8th hole with the lake, a portion is owned by Missouri City, a portion by Ynanda Corp. and the immediate adjacent areas are owned by
private homeowners, according to the city’s Public Information Manager Stacie Walker. In 2007, Missouri City was interested in acquiring the property purchased by Ynanda Corp. in a tax sale, but it was outbid. Walker said the city was interested because it provided an opportunity for it to acquire a portion of the golf course. At that time, Missouri City did not own the golf course property it later acquired by eminent domain.
So who’s responsible for maintaining the lake property? “The city enforces the City Code of Ordinances on private property,” said Walker and “the Ynanda Corp. property is in compliance with city property maintenance code.”
Jackson would like to know who will the trim the weeds and brush growing in what may turn out to be a dry lake, where just five years ago, “we have enjoyed the fish, large soft shell turtles and viewing the herons, ducks and geese that were all abundant.” She also said that residents along the lake paid for an irrigation system to keep it at level. “From what I understand that has long since been destroyed,” she said.
The city indicates it has no city code governing water levels in private or public bodies of water. Reportedly for city property, employees cut grass and weeds, and also maintain drainage facilities. The city said that some of the property in question has a drainage facility and Missouri City actively takes a stance against filling it entirely so that nearby homes will be protected from potential flooding.
In the meantime, with every answer about the drying lake, more questions are raised by the area’s homeowners, like new lakes that will be on the old Executive 9, now to become McNaughton Park, after others are closed up. “Where is that water to come from,” asks Jackson. Powell wants to know about “effluent” water, recycled water not suitable for drinking and not being put into lakes, yet being “dumped” into Oyster Creek where there are no posted signs prohibiting fishing and water activities at prominent spots along Oyster Creek to alert people. “Are we being held to a double standard that we cannot put this excess water into the lake, but can into the public creek,” he asks.
In Meadows Place there is a new lake under construction to be filled with ‘reclaimed’ water “from our Waste Water Treatment Plant that has been processed to a level that it is approved for human contact by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,” said Mayor Charles Jessup. This clean water source, he said, will be used to fill the lake, irrigate the park, baseball fields, and esplanades and save the city tens of thousands of dollars annually. The bottom of the lake was specially prepared, he said, “a natural liner, which means they take clay soil, which we were able to capture as we dug, and compact it to a density that make it non porous,” like a big clay bowl to hold the water. “The water itself is being produced by a ‘never ending’ supply at virtually no additional cost to the city,” adds Mayor Jessup noting that minor expenses offsetting huge cost savings by using reclaimed water would be incurred to run lights, aerators, and pumps.
As this matter continues to undergo resident understanding, Powell said, “the more homeowners that weigh in on the lake condition, the more questions will be asked.”