|San Jacinto News Times - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
County landmark gone
By MARTHA CHARREY
San Jacinto News-Times editor
WATERWOOD – Referred to some as the "biggest disaster in San Jacinto County history," Waterwood Country Club and cabanas have been demolished. Demolition is nearly completed, causing George Russell, one of the largest property owners in the Waterwood area to call it, "the most economically destructive situation and biggest disaster in San Jacinto County history." Since its closing in 2009, Russell said he tried to work out an agreement with owner Joe Nocito to update the Waterwood clubhouse without compromising the architectural integrity. "I spent 12 years attempting to reason with Nocito through his agent Landreau without success," Russell said. "One of our efforts was to allow our Native Americans the right to establish a casino to give them income and also keep gambling money in Texas. One of the many uses for the country club building would have been as a first class casino. "When the Indians offered to give up the more than $200 million dollars the government owes them if they would be allowed to open a gambling operation, we informed Nocito and used that fact to attempt to stop the demolition," Russell said. "Nocito also refused to delay demolition and receive a million or more in tax benefits if he would donate the club house to Rice University or other interested university spheric Studies what would have brought in scientists from all over the world," Russell said. Russell owns a 7.85 acre peninsula on Lake Livingston at Waterwood which he said Nocito wanted to build a new hotel/club/casino or hotel/condo on while demolishing the old clubhouse. "I was okay with those plans but demanded that the clubhouse be maintained to serve other functions," Russell said. "Demolishing the finest building to have ever been built in East Texas was a deal breaker." An attempt to locate Nocito for comment was to no avail. Waterwood history Waterwood was established in 1972 as a retirement/resort community consisting of primary residences and second homes and the Waterwood National Resort and Country Club was opened in October of 1974. It contains about 8,000 acres along the northwestern shore of Lake Livingston in northern San Jacinto County, 27 miles from Huntsville and Livingston and 90 miles north of Houston. Amenities at Waterwood included an 18-hole golf course designed by Pete Dye and Associates, 6,872 yards –Par 71 – 73.7 slope, ranked the second toughest course in Texas. The multi-story clubhouse had several dining rooms, snack bar and a large conference center with multiple meeting rooms with swimming pools and tennis courts. There was an 84-room cabana with 36 of those located next to the club house, an RV park with water and electrical hook-ups, and Pools Creek Park with a small man-made lake with a swimming pool and located near the Waterwood Lodges. All roads in the developed areas of Waterwood are paved and public streets maintained by San Jacinto County and the Waterwood Improvement Association. The storm drainage from the roadways is maintained by the Waterwood Municipal Utility District. Claiming low economy, Nocita announced in May of 2009 that the facilities would be closed with no reopen date given.