Chamisa Hills Country Club is listed for sale by auction.

Rio Rancho’s country club and golf course is listed by NavPoint Real Estate Group LLC of Colorado as one of the properties in an online auction scheduled for May 29. The minimum bid is $850,000, or a little more than $3,600 per acre.

Country club member Kathy Colley said there’s been talk of selling Chamisa Hills for months.

“Hopefully, whoever buys it will keep it as a golf course,” she said.

However, Colley said local golfers could use nearby courses outside of Rio Rancho if that didn’t happen.

Chamisa Hills has tremendous historical value, being one of the first things developer AMREP built, Colley said. Top golfers and architects designed and built the course.

Owner Harry Apodaca and his partners bought the club more than a decade ago, and Colley said this is the fourth owner since she became a member in 1994.

City councilors Chuck Wilkins and Mark Scott said the club’s general manager, Ray Duran, told the Willow Trace Homeowners Association on March 26 that Apodaca, Duran’s father-in-law, was in for the long haul and planning improvements.

Charles “Chuck” Davis, who lives along the golf course and is a social member of Chamisa Hills, said the country club sold once before since his house was built, and homes continued to be bought and built in the neighborhood. Davis said retirees will still be looking for homes, which are desirable in the Chamisa Hills area.

“It’s sad that it’s going up for sale,” he said.

Davis wasn’t sure a country club would sell in the current economy. He said it will be interesting to see if it sells, who buys it and what they do with it.

If the country club closes, Davis said, Rio Rancho will lose jobs.

Wilkins and Scott said the city wouldn’t have the money to buy Chamisa Hills unless homeowners in the neighborhood agreed to pay a special tax. Scott, who lives near the country club, said the sale price is low, but the cost of maintenance and necessary renovations is prohibitive.

Wilkins said a city assessment using 2010 data indicated the club would need $3.42 million of improvements, plus $1.3 million a year in operating expenses, without the recent increase in water rates.

“To me, that would be another (Santa Ana) Star Center,” he said of the idea of the city buying the club.

Mayor Tom Swisstack said he is concerned about the situation. Even if someone buys Chamisa Hills, he asked, how will the city work with water rates and the buyer?

The city councilors recently voted to raise reused water rates to $4.54 per 1,000 gallons by 2017, up from the 47 cents per 1,000 gallons the country club pays now. At the time, club Office Manager Tsaja Duran said the increase would come close to putting Chamisa Hills out of business.

Under the higher reused water rates, Swisstack said, irrigating the golf course will cost about $1 million more after five years than before the increase. The city needs to look at the ramifications of fees on businesses, Swisstack said.

“This is the only organized open space we have in our city,” he said.

Swisstack said if the city took ownership, the golf course would be public and the Chamisa Hills restaurant might need to be privatized.

“I think we have a responsibility to look at all possible options, and so there should be some dialogue to discuss those options,” he said.

Swisstack also wants input from residents in the area.

Scott said, according to his rough estimate, if all of the approximately 1,000 homeowners living on the golf course paid for a membership, the country club would bring in $3.5 million a year. He’s concerned about property values along the golf course.

“This is critical,” Scott said.

Real estate agent Mark Fiedler said if the buyer of the country club doesn’t maintain the country club as a golf course, homes along the golf course could drop in value, depending on what development occurs there.

The uncertainty of the golf course’s fate could impact the ability for those homes to sell, he said.

However, Fiedler stressed there are too many unknown factors to really know the effect, if any.

“There’s a lot of what-ifs,” he said.

Fiedler said the whole city is better off having a golf course because it improves the local quality of life.

Chamisa Hills managers did not return phone calls seeking comment by press time.