This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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There is a clear divide in public sentiment concerning the Ocean Breeze Golf Course acquisition. Most interests groups support ‘Keeping Golf In Boca’. Most interests groups support Ocean Breeze’s restoration to a world class ‘public’ golf experience. Where the divide occurs in in the acquisition process. Some interest groups favor the Beach and Park District’s acquisition for the asking price of $24 million dollars; others argue that the property does not support an acquisition at that price. Over the last few week’s BocaWatch has published these opposing points of view. Below is the latest position paper received representing the opinion(s) of its author and not necessarily the opinion of BocaWatch or its management.
Al Zucaro, Publisher
It’s time for City Council to take over the acquisition of the Ocean Breeze golf course. The Beach & Parks District has proved itself woefully inadequate to the task.
The Parks District has agreed to pay $24 million for the derelict, abandoned Ocean Breeze golf course — a property worth no more than $6 million. The Parks District needs the City to issue bonds to pay for the purchase — and the transaction therefore cannot proceed without City Council’s approval.
Some people have suggested that the City Council should rubber-stamp the Park District’s proposal because the Parks District is agreeing to reimburse the City for the required payments on the bonds.
The fact that the money to repay the bonds would come from the Parks District (as opposed to the City) is a distinction without a difference. Every single taxpayer of the City pays taxes to the Parks District.
In other words, whether the money to repay the bonds comes from the City or from the Parks District, the taxpayers of Boca Raton would ultimately be footing the bill.
City Council has a duty to protect the citizens of Boca Raton.
Not only should the City take over the negotiations, but it should acquire the property for itself.
Let’s review . . .
The City — and not the Parks District — owns the title to the Western golf course. So putting the Ocean Breeze property on the City’s books is not a foreign concept.
The Ocean Breeze golf course — which, in effect, would be a better-located replacement for the Western golf course — is fully contained with the City limits.
The Parks District can’t pay for the property itself — it needs the City to float bonds to fund its purchase of Ocean Breeze. If the City buys the property, the purchase transaction is simplified.
The Parks District has done a TERRIBLE job of protecting the taxpayers of Boca Raton. It has agreed to pay Lennar $24 million for a property appraised at under $6 million, dismissing out-of-hand using eminent domain to acquire the property at fair market value.
The Parks District has lost the confidence of the taxpayers. Maybe not the residents of Boca Teeca who stand to benefit greatly from the Ocean Breeze bail out — but the rest of the taxpayers who are being asked to foot a bill for the Parks District’s spectacularly bad negotiating performance.
The total cost for Ocean Breeze would not be just the land cost, but also additional millions for renovation and improvements. The Parks District’s own numbers (which it doesn’t advertise) put the renovation and improvement cost in the neighborhood of $11 to $21 million — more if it decides to associate Ocean Breeze with a “name” golf professional.
What we recommend
- The City should take over the purchase negotiations for Ocean Breeze.
- If necessary, the City should use an eminent domain proceeding to obtain a fair price, one that reflects the fair market value of the Ocean Breeze property.
- The City should be the owner of the Ocean Breeze property, not the Beach & Parks District.
Council needs to protect us
The Mayor and City Council pride themselves on how well they run the City’s finances. Taxes are relatively low and services are excellent.
We are asking City Council to recognize that it can’t turn a blind eye to the Parks District’s incompetence. The overpayment of $15 to $20 million — an undeserved and unearned windfall to a major developer — which the Parks District is proposing to pay would be an inexcusable waste of taxpayer money.
City Council needs to protect us.
Yes, we can have a world class municipal golf course in the City of Boca Raton — but we shouldn’t overpay to get it. And the golf course should be owned by the City. Let’s cut out the middleman.
Judith Teller Kaye
Boca Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility
Contact your public officials
The names and email addresses of the Mayor and City Councilmembers are below, as are the names and email addresses of the Parks District’s Commissoners. Please feel free to call or write them.
City of Boca Raton – 561-393-7708
Mayor Susan – Haynie firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers – email@example.com
Councilmember Andrea O’Rourke – AORourke@ci.boca-raton.fl.us
Councilmember Scott Singer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember Robert Weinroth – email@example.com
Boca Raton Beach & Parks District – 561-417-4599
Commissioner Steve Engel – firstname.lastname@example.org,
Commissioner Craig Ehrnst – email@example.com
Commissioner Robert K. Rollins, Jr. – firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Susan Vogelgesang – email@example.com
Commissioner Erin Wright – firstname.lastname@example.org
I would appreciate receiving a copy of any emails you send. My email address is: Judith.Teller@Teller-Kaye.com.