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Golf course negotiations ‘on hold’

By Staff | Apr 4, 2019

The city of Cape Coral and owners of the old golf course acreage are in a holding pattern concerning the possible city purchase of the property as environmental processes regarding soil contamination continue.

City officials said Thursday that the lines of communication are still open between the city and Ryan Companies US, the owner of the approximately 178-acre site.

“The status has not changed in several months. The city is doing its due diligence,” said Connie Barron, assistant city manager.

Barron said that Ryan Companies is working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to establish the level of clean-up needed to meet up-to-par standards.

What the FDEP will require is not clear at the moment nor is a timeline, she said.

“If it’s acceptable, we will move forward,” Barron said.

Property appraisals range from $10-$18 million for a “clean site,” depending on land use. The price the city and land owner opened with was $12 million with the property owner paying site mitigation costs.

The city wants to write only one check for the parcel, and does not want to assume liability for any environmental issues that may arise, Barron said.

“It’s still a viable purchase (if the land is up to acceptable standards),” she said.

Barron said the city has not received a plan of action from Ryan.

Arsenic levels are the primary issue, as the course has not been operated as such since 2006 and had used fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals that contaminated the ground, Cape Coral Councilmember Jessica Cosden said last December when Council agreed to hire a consultant.

Cape Coral City Council approved up to $50,000 for a toxicologist to look out for the best interests of the city, Barron said.

In situations like this, the FDEP works with the land owners to set an acceptable standard for whatever property they are evaluating.

Once the standard is set, it must be met before being cleared for other uses.

Arcadis, a design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets, is working with Ryan’s ongoing efforts with the FDEP.

Ryan, which owns the land under Florida Gulf Venture, LLC, also is apparently looking at all options.

A letter dated Feb. 11, from Arcadis to FDEP states, “Based on discussions between Ryan, Arcadis, and the City’s consultant, the property owner, Florida Gulf Venture, LLC (FGV), is placing the potential sale to the City on hold as it evaluates other potential alternatives.

“Although the potential sale to the City is on hold, FGV wishes to proceed with obtaining FDEP concurrence on the arsenic background concentration”

Ryan Companies US could not be reached by press time Thursday.

Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj