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Council’s first look at new public golf course plans gets an F

City council rejected the cost and layout for the new public golf course. And turns out the takeover rumors were partly true.

That doesn’t bode well for their decision to fork over a construction loan and approve the design of Boca National Golf Club at the May 28 joint meeting.

The Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District bought the closed Ocean Breeze course in Boca Teeca with a $20 million city loan.

Now the district wants the city to ante up a possible $28 million construction loan. And council thinks the district can’t afford it.

“Too much promised. Too much money. I don’t want to steal it from them, but we want to move forward,” Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke said at the council workshop Monday.

“If Beach & Park can’t do this, I’m open to taking it over,” agreed councilman Andy Thomson.

Mayor Scott Singer stopped short of suggesting a city takeover. “I’m committed to keeping golf in Boca,” but not for $28 million he said.

The district hired Price Fazio to design the course the city will have to approve.

But council didn’t like a pricey tunnel so golfers didn’t have to cross Northwest Second Avenue. And handing over rights to develop Jeffrey Street in the future didn’t sit well with them, either.

“We may change some ideas where things go,” O’Rourke added about moving the clubhouse and other amenities to the west side to avoid the tunnel build.

The city owns the title to that land until the district pays off that loan in 20 years. It bought the eastern side outright.

District director Briann Harms assured council the district wouldn’t default. “We are committed to paying off the bond,” she said.

But council balked at having no say on the purchase price.

“We overpaid and we can’t go back on that, but I want to see this get done,” said Councilman Jeremy Rodgers. “I can’t go forward without knowing how tied in we are financially. I’d like to see the city take it over.”

 “I’m happy to help, but I also have concerns other projects cost less,” Singer said, particularly a public course in Winter Park.

“We need 18 holes and we can make this a residents’ course with some bells and whistles,” he added.

Council appreciates GL Homes’ offer to delay completing the deal on the city’s municipal golf course, Singer said. “We’re trying to reduce the gap,” between closing the muni and opening Boca National.

“We are ready, willing and able to close this October. We do not need this extension,” said GL Homes vice president Larry Portnoy.

By Marci Shatzman


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