New public golf course deal leaves Boca Teeca site out…What happens now?

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In a surprise move, the city just accepted Boca Country Club as the new 18-hole public golf course. That made the planned and designed course and complex at 5801 NW Second Ave. in Boca Teeca moot.

“The reality is, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the city and district to have competing golf courses,” Commissioner Craig Ehrnst noted. He spoke at the first Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District meeting since the city accepted the donation. “We need to reconsider plans submitted.”

That move left the district “on the hook for $19 million at the request of the city,” Commissioner Bob Rollins said about the loan for the property. “We spent close to $1 million we have invested in this project.”  The district engaged Price Fazio to design the course and much of the property has been cleared. Nearly 212 acres include 70 acres on the east side and 130 on the west side of Second Avenue.

But most players and a pro told the district all is not lost. They still want a public 9-hole executive course and training center there. And at least one Boca Teeca resident asked for existing tennis courts to be converted to pickleball.

“We’re very disappointed and in shock at the decision the city has made. But we lick our wounds and move on,” said Keep Golf in Boca president Harold Chaffee. “This area is still in need of a 9-hole, driving range and learning center. And leave the west side in the bank. See how things go with the new endeavor acquiring this large piece of property. It’s a great asset to the city if used properly.”

“Take down the fences. The property you own looks horrible,” resident Robert DuKate said about a parcel the district bought outright. “We can use current tennis courts on that location to convert immediately to pickle ball courts.”

Representing more than 200 players at the city’s municipal course, sold to GL Homes but still open, Greg Galanis agreed. He read letters from 20 other players including league presidents.

GL Homes expects an extension to seal the municipal course deal for housing. “The city is going to exercise the first option to extend from April to October and we’ll close at that time,” said company vice president Larry Portnoy.

Don Law Academy co-owner Rick Heard agreed the city’s 9-hole at Red Reef Park won’t substitute. “It pales in comparison and is not as nice as the muni. The practice range is too small and will be inadequate for play. There’s still room for a driving range and playable short course.” Not to mention a learning center for youth and other new players, including seniors and students.

In the meantime, the district agreed to meet with the city to discuss ways forward. They also want to amend an agreement that assumed the district would build in Boca Teeca. Still at issue are a tunnel under Second Avenue and who has the rights to a section of Jeffrey Street in dispute.

By Marci Shatzman

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