What’s next for old Golf Club property?
Now that the City Council has ruled to not change the land use designation for the vacant golf course in Southeast Cape, what’s the next move for the city going forward?
Several council members believe council’s work is done and it’s up to the land owners, or another buyer, to make the next move. While council did ask City Manager John Szerlag to look into options and opportunities at the meeting, there has been no progress made on that front at this time, according to Szerlag.
“I can’t speak for the owners, but for council we will do nothing at all,” said Councilmember John Carioscia, who voted against the land use change largely because D.R. Horton withdrew its PDP proposal earlier in the day to build 600 single-family homes on the property. “We did our work. It’s foolish for council to discuss it. It sends the wrong signal to the owners that we have an interest in the property.”
Council voted 4-4 not to change the land use from parks to residential to match the zoning and surrounding neighborhood. As the owner, Florida Gulf Ventures followed through on the land use change application to be heard without Horton’s participation.
Attorney Richard Yovanovich, who represented Florida Gulf Ventures at Monday’s meeting, did not return phone calls seeking comment on what his client will do next. Yovanovich, however, stated Monday that his client might have interest in discussing a land swap or other options to make fair use of the property.
“Council should do nothing,” said Councilmember Jim Burch, one of the four no votes Monday. “The city manager and his staff should get together and pool their resources to get a good result, work with the different groups and find a way to preserve that area.”
He added that it’s premature for council to hold further discussions on the topic during its meetings, but agrees that something needs to be done that can’t be undone, just not residential development.
Councilmember Rick Williams, who also voted no, said it’s not up to council to make the next move.
“We are not in a position to negotiate anything,” Williams said. “Staff can sit down with the owner and have a serious talk about options. There has been posturing on both sides for two years. It’s time to get serious about what can happen, but not a purchase. We don’t have the money for that. We have to decide what the best use is for the land other than as a golf course.”
Purchasing the property would cost the city between $6 million and $15 million, Williams said. Then the city would have to spend big bucks to develop it and more big bucks to maintain it.
“A land swap is a great idea and I would be all for that,” Williams said.