Breaking news: Park district to build public golf course after all

After ceding the public golf course build to the city, the park district decided to go it alone after all. Even if it takes five years to finance the build themselves.

“We will build the golf course we envisioned. It will just take time,” Commissioner Robert K. Rollins Jr. said.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to “politely decline” a new joint agreement for Boca National Golf Course after hearing speakers opposed to the city taking over.

The new pact would have given the city the right to start from scratch and most of the control. But it would have left the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District holding the bag financially, whether the course made money or not. It also would have “conveyed title of the property to the city” once the district paid off the $19 million bond it borrowed to buy the property.

That didn’t sit well with commissioners, either. “This interlocal agreement is not in the best interest of golfers or the community,” chairwoman Susan Vogelgesang said to applause Monday night.

Now the district will release a request for proposals for companies to build the course, Vogelgesang said. “Price Fazio will be with us all the way,” she added about the design team the district chose and paid for two years ago.

The city hasn’t accepted the Price Fazio design.

The district had opted not to increase the millage or property tax rate after residents showed up to oppose the hike. So, the money to build the course wasn’t available. That caused the city to step in and take over.

Now the district will prioritize all their projects and come up with a plan to go forward, said Briann Harms, executive director.

Speakers included Rick Heard, the PGA golf pro at the closed Ocean Breeze course the district bought. Co-owner of Don Law Golf Academy, Heard has been working behind the scenes on the district’s behalf. He proposed three options to phase in the new course. “This is a $13.4 million project that will deliver everything the city and community have said they wanted,” he said at the meeting.

City council had put a $15 million cap on construction.

Extending the timeline would mean it’s unlikely the sale of the municipal golf course could coincide with the opening of Boca National. The city already agreed to sell the property in West Boca to GL Homes.

But Greg Galanis, representing those golfers, was happy with the vote regardless. “We’ll be with you in the trenches every step along the way,” he said.

“Thanks for doing the right thing,” said Harold Chaffee, who represents 2,000 Boca Teeca residents.

The district and city have another joint meeting Jan. 27.

By Marci Shatzman


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