LAKE SUZY — Lake Suzy residents are calling for action to finally clean up Kingsway Country Club, owned by Allegiant Travel Company, in the DeSoto County area.
"The country club has been closed since (mid-March) and is not being maintained," wrote Maureen Stasi in an email to the Sun.
Stasi said Lake Suzy residents have concerns of how the neglect is affecting area property values and "most importantly, neighborhood safety."
Stasi is president of the Alliance of Lake Suzy Homeowners Association, representing 13 Homeowners Associations and single family residents in the area − around 1,000 residences in southwest DeSoto County.
The club, established in 1976, was closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is located in the Lake Suzy community of DeSoto County near the border of Charlotte County and was expected to serve as a companion destination to Allegiant’s Sunseeker Resort in Charlotte Harbor.
"They are a mega-million dollar company," Stasi said. "They can't (afford) to hire a lawn contractor to maintain their perimeter property that abuts Lake Suzy residential properties? They are not the 'good neighbor' they said they would be."
Since closing, the country club property has fallen into disrepair − overgrown with weeds, dead grass, fallen palm fronds and other debris.
The neglect has become so bad that DeSoto County Code Enforcement had to step in and help.
On May 28, an email was sent as a courtesy notice to Allegiant representatives from the county to inform them the Kingsway property, at 13625 S.W. Kingsway Circle, has fallen into a condition "constituting a violation" of the DeSoto County’s Code of Ordinance Article X, Sec. 11-221, part of the Clean County Act of DeSoto.
"The notice advised that the property must be mowed, and the landscape maintained at all times," said Code Enforcement Director Jorge Hernandez.
The property was monitored for 30 days for compliance with an "obvious cleanliness standard" and no changes were made.
On June 18, a meeting was held between DeSoto and Allegiant representatives.
"They (understood) that the property is in violation and that based on the email sent on May 16, the violation had to be corrected by June 28," Hernandez said. "Unfortunately, they could not give us a definitive timeline for compliance."
On June 29, code enforcement conducted a follow-up inspection but the violation was still not corrected.
The county will have to pursue further action to get Allegiant to bring the property into compliance, according to Hernandez.
Allegiant Spokesperson Hilarie Grey told the Sun that the meeting was "helpful and positive."
"Our team had a productive meeting with DeSoto County officials," Grey said. "We came away with information and a thorough understanding of requirements for code compliance moving forward. We are in the process of formulating plans to address these issues as expediently as possible."
Grey went on to say that they appreciated the county's understanding of "this unusual situation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted a long-planned, complete renovation of the golf course property."
In a June 15 letter to Allegiant representatives, Stasi wrote, "The residents of Lake Suzy are aghast by the conditions of the property with grass exceeding county codes and weeds measuring more than 36 inches. This is an eyesore in our community and has created a public nuisance."
As of July 1, Stasi said she has yet to receive a response from the company.
Debbie Rakowitz, who does not belong to the DeSoto HOAs, lives across the street (S.W. Kingsway Circle) from the country club in Charlotte County.
Rakowitz said Allegiant's neglect affects everyone in the area, not just DeSoto residents.
"It's a safety issue," Rakowitz said. "Palm fronds fall onto the middle of the street and they could cause a car accident if we weren't picking them up. Animals are starting to come in ... we saw coyotes the other day.
"Allegiant needs to take responsibility for this mess, not the neighbors."