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Breaking news City gets 45 days to OK public golf course design

They’re not backing down from building the new public golf course instead of the city. So the beach and park district took the next step.

Commissioners voted to put the city on notice to approve the design for the west parcel of Boca National Golf Course.

“In order for this important project to proceed in a timely manner, please provide a response to the District within 45 days of receipt,” the letter to city manager Leif Ahnell says.

City council has spent the last year backing off from design approval. The Greater Boca Raton Beach District owns the east side of the divided site. So it doesn’t need city approval, said district chair Susan Vogelgesang. The vote was applauded by a packed room of Boca Teeca residents who live on the old Ocean Breeze site. Harold Chaffee, Keep Golf in Boca president, said he put the word out to make sure the district felt supported.

Their decision to stick with their original plan to build the course came after the city agreed to build and pay for it. But then the city submitted a new agreement the district rejected for control and financial reasons. “We did give them a list of our concerns that were ignored,” Commissioner Steve Engel said. Their legal counsel agreed the new agreement was not in the district’s best interests.

By phasing the course over five years, it can be done without raising taxes or shorting other projects. “If property values go up 4 percent as expected,” said executive director Briann Harms.

But commissioners still want the city to kick in. Whether it’s from the upcoming sale of Boca Municipal Golf Course for $67 million. Or part of what the district spent on selecting the Price Fazio design team, changing plans and land clearing. That amounts to $7.5 million, plus the debt service on the $19 million city loan, the district said.

“We don’t have an idea what’s palatable to the city,” Engel added.

But with a Jan. 27 joint meeting coming up, fellow commissioners agreed with Erin Wright. They gave her the OK to ask.

And they’re still hoping the city will partner with them on other projects. That includes Ocean Strand, a stretch of waterfront property the district owns.

In another matter, commissioners asked their law firm to look into their ability as a state authority to lease property. That would give them revenue for the golf course, said Commissioner Robert Rollins Jr. They were already informed their charter does not allow them to sell property.

By Marci Shatzman

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