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Council sanctions study of old golf course for ‘blight’

By Staff | Feb 10, 2009

A plan to incorporate The Golf Club golf course and surrounding area into the Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency boundaries took its first step Monday as council members unanimously voted to fund a study to discover if the land is considered a blighted area.
CRA staffers developed the plan in order to restore the golf course, which now lies overgrown and uncared for after its current owner, Florida Gulf Ventures, shut it down in 2006 for its lack of economic viability.
Under the plan, the Trust for Public Lands, a nonprofit land conservation organization, will purchase the course from Florida Gulf Ventures and then sell it to the CRA. The course, however, must be included in the CRA boundaries for that to happen.
“The key for the CRA to buy the golf course is for the golf course to be inside the CRA. To do that a finding of necessity must be done,” CRA executive director John Jacobsen explained to council members.
While council members supported the overall idea to preserve the course, some were skeptical the study, which costs the city $26,500, would come back with the desired results.
Councilmember Dolores Bertolini was particularly concerned about the state of negotiations between the TPL and Florida Gulf Ventures should the study not reveal blight in the area.
“If they say there is not enough blight to allow the CRA taking it over, what happens to those negotiations?” she asked.
TPL representative Doug Hattaway said that outcome would throw a wrench into the plans.
“If that were not to happen certainly that would cause us pause. We’d have to look for other funding sources which is tougher right now because of the economic situation,” Hattaway said.
Jacobsen assured council members he was “99.9 percent” sure the study would reveal a blighted area.
“We wouldn’t have started on this road if we weren’t very, very confident the finding would come back positive,” Jacobsen said.
If the area is found to be blighted and is eventually incorporated into the CRA, the CRA would then pay the $26,500 for the study back to the city.

In other news
— A vote to decide a route through the downtown area for overhead or underground transmission lines originally scheduled for Monday was postponed until next week due to the absence of Councilmember Gloria Tate, who was absent due to illness.