It has been more than two
years since I last wrote about “Homestead Resort.” Before
continuing, it is necessary to provide background on the
In 1996, a charismatic man named Victor Trygstad applied to
buy 320 acres of public land in the Butte after obtaining
options on about 500 acres of adjacent private land. Trygstad
claimed to have an agreement with Jack Nicklaus to build a
$15-million golf course and resort, and that Jack himself
required the borough land to make the project successful.
Area residents overwhelmingly protested, preferring to
maintain the character of the area and keep the popular parcel
for recreational use. Trygstad gave elaborate presentations
and played Jack Nicklaus golf videos, but never produced his
often-promised “plan.” Ever. That was in the hands of an
“international land planner,” where it presumably remains to
There was a relatively small amount of supporting testimony
at the hearings. As it turns out, many of the individuals
testifying in support had already profited financially from
Trygstad, either from real estate fees or by producing the
very materials Trygstad used as supporting documentation.
Regardless, the assembly and planning commission overruled
the public, due to the potential economic impact of such a
During this time, it became questionable whether a golf
course was planned at all. Someone else had submitted an
application to buy part of the parcel before Trygstad, causing
concern about methods the borough uses to determine what land
to sell, and to whom.
Borough demands for Trygstad’s résumé and background
information were dropped. Trygstad frequently missed meetings
and deadlines, but was given a pass every time.
Testimony about soil conditions, and concerns about the
ability to obtain Corps of Engineers permits were dismissed.
Yet the assembly continually reassured the public that it
would “hold his feet to the fire” regarding development of the
golf course, for which public land was essentially being
Fortunately, former borough manager Don Moore replaced the
plan to sell the land outright, with a lease with an option to
purchase, incorporating milestones for the development.
Trygstad embraced this plan, but after a change in
administrations he complained it was “onerous.”
The 55-page lease agreement was thrown out by the new
administration and replaced with a 13-page version in early
1998, after another attempt to buy it outright failed. The
assembly removed the stipulation for a “Jack Nicklaus” golf
References to “Jack Nicklaus” were replaced with “notable
designer,” in case Jack died. Trygstad’s appraisal, which will
be used to determine the purchase price after the lease
expires, came in at $650 per acre.
In early 1999, developer Judd Walker formed a company
called Pioneer Mountain Properties. He announced at a Butte
Community Council meeting that the original golf course plan
did not appear feasible. He said Trygstad’s company was 40
percent owner of PMP, and that Trygstad had no control over
Walker said Trygstad’s original plans no longer applied,
and he had no firm plans for the borough parcel. He mentioned
that a development with horse trails, geared toward cargo
pilots, would be one idea.
The last piece of information I have is an August 2000
letter written by Ron Swanson of the borough to the planning
commission. It says, “A covenant that the property will be
developed as a golf course with compatible residential
development is to be recorded at the time of conveyance.”
That means the borough will transfer title to the land
without the required golf course in place. Is that what
“holding his feet to the fire” means?
Neither party believes the $15 million Jack Nicklaus golf
course is real. That just happened to be bothersome wording in
the lease, necessary to get support for noncompetitive “name
your own price” access to prime borough land. Additionally,
someone named Gary Roeder has signed borough documents as
managing member of Trygstad’s company.
Little else has surfaced in the last two years. Early in
this fiasco, as part of the procedure to enter into a contract
with Trygstad, the borough conducted a background check.
Within the last two years, an assembly member told me that
not all the information regarding Trygstad’s previous real
estate dealings was made public, and this nonpublic
information had a bearing on the borough’s actions. Sounds
Borough Mayor Tim Anderson recently wrote an article urging
citizens to seek out facts rather than rely upon rumors. I’ve
asked before, and I’m still waiting, for those who supported
and voted for this in the face of such blatant stonewalling,
and incremental whittling away of previous lease conditions,
to provide a rational explanation.
Perceived lack of honesty causes rumors. If we can’t have
the truth, many more things are unearthed as people dig for
There are reasons the borough is perceived as dishonest,
and why so many people think the port and Hatcher Pass are
self-serving scams. Coming clean about Homestead Resort will
go a long way toward establishing some credibility.
While you’re at it, tell us who Victor Trygstad is, who his
“anonymous investors” are, and why they deserve priority
access to borough assets. I wouldn’t want any rumors to get
Between 1997 and 1999, there were more than 30 articles in
the Frontiersman about the “Homestead Resort.” Since then,
there have been exactly zero.
That’s too bad, because there may be an interesting story
at the bottom of this. I have extensive documentation posted
This issue was my introduction to how the borough operates,
and if you examine the Web site, you can just about hear the
cynicism oozing from my pores.
I suspect the situation at the borough is much better
today, but I’ll reserve judgment until I hear some truthful
Jim Courtney is a Butte resident.