Question of the Week: The old golf course acreage
Each week through the primary, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. This week’s question is: It has been more than two years since City Council voted to pursue the purchase the 175 acres that once was home to the old Cape Coral golf course. It’s been more than a year since the city and the property owner hit an impasse over soil testing and remediation and the city put the purchase on hold due to environmental concerns. What would be your approach to this issue?
The golf course property acquisition needs to become a priority for the new city manager. In 2009, the golf course property was added to the CRA in order to leverage the CRA designation to acquire the property. The golf course should be purchased with CRA funds not the city’s general fund. The CRA could complete the final analysis of what remediation would entail and a final price determined. Then the property acquisition should proceed, and the property developed into the centerpiece park of Cape Coral.
Having good green space and attractions in Cape Coral will be an important need as we continue to grow. My preference would be to preserve it and make it a destination for residents to enjoy. Having cycling/walking trails without fear of traffic would be a welcomed addition to the city and an amphitheater would help create a gathering space for music/cultural events. I would also explore ideas with the county for partnership. We must make a final decision. It is your money; it is a big investment, let us put it to the voters to decide.
Having a new City Manager on board we have a fresh negotiator to move forward on negotiations. Work out environmental issues and price. This is a blighted area that has to be dealt with so building a nonprofit botanical gardens that will create a large draw to our much needed entertainment district.?
Also we can relocate park amenities from the Yacht Club so that we have more room for beach and boating activities.??????
Remainder of property can be used for medical offices and/or a park.?
This investment will raise our value as a city.
Over 2 years have passed since the city tried to buy the 175 acre old golf course. We have not been given the true value of this property with its contamination. A $60 million park bond passed that all residents are paying taxes on.
The budget review process has begun, with comments from council that there may be funding issues.
The CRA district includes this area. They must designate a plan for the property that dos not involve additional park funding or taxes citywide. How about a public/private partnership?
I believe it is the responsibility of the current property owners, Florida Gulf Venture, to move forward with the soil testing and remediation. I would hate to see us enter into any agreement to purchase the land where it would be our responsibility to soil test. That is too much of a risk because of various fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides that may have penetrated the soil over the years. I know staff has been working with the current owners and those negotiations should continue and at aggressive pace, so we can move forward. We owe it to the residents to pursue the purchase because of the green space opportunities to use the land as a park and wildlife habitat.
Prerequisite to considering acquisition and/or further expenditure (previously approved $50k on toxicologist), an informed understanding of contamination, FDEP prescribed mitigation, & use standards are needed. Site owner Ryan Companies, via a subsidiary, was pursuing all with the FDEP. Legacy arsenic ground contamination from pesticide & fertilizer treatments impair the property value. The FDEP determinations will shed light on the range of feasible use options available and serve as the basis to gauge City interest. Obviously, 175 acres of green space so located could be a great asset to enhance resident quality of life options. With remediated property appraisals ranging from $10M to $18M, continued due diligence on the environmental matters is imperative.
*** District 5 (General Election ballot)
Louis C. Navarra
My top campaign pledges, besides lowering millage rate, reforms for Cape Police Department, is the Environment and the old golf course. My opinion: Council does not want to buy it. They promised. I want us out of entertainment business: lease or sell Sunsplash, and Coral Oaks. They are run at budget loses. Use that and GO bond money to make old country club a park instead of tearing up pristine land for new parks.
I feel that the property would be a great asset to the city parks, and could offer amenities we don’t have in the city yet. Being that this was a golf course we could add running tacks, BBQ pavilions, frisbee/soccer golf course, or even a small amphitheatre for music or movies. Unfortunately, the owner of the property will not let the city test the soil and water conditions which could have a major environmental impact and remediation fees that the taxpayers would have to fund. I feel there are ways the city could test the areas surrounding to get a better knowledge of what might be happening on the site, but in the end until the property owner works with the city on the issues it will stay where it is at.
Jessica Cosden, Incumbent
It’s no secret that older golf courses sometimes come with arsenic contamination, and the owners of this property knew they were purchasing a former golf course. The responsibility to mitigate any hazardous contamination lies solely with the owners, and must take place before the City purchases the property. Otherwise, the taxpayers would be funding a costly remediation project, and that is wrong. It is in the owners’ best interest to address all environmental concerns so the City can move forward with purchase negotiations. I will be asking the new City Manager to resume discussions in the hope that this becomes a property of the City.
Patty L. Cummings
The land can be restored as a safe and green space. The bottom line is the 175 acres purchase cost is $12 million. The city wants to add amenities that increase the value and allow all Cape Coral residents to enjoy it. Multi use puts the value up higher than park use, as much as increasing the land value to $18 million plus. I would suggest to develop a park with hiking and bike trails, tennis court along with a small business front with restaurants, novelty shops, ice cream stand, and outdoor sports shop with bike and hiking gear rental for the day. It could even have an area for fitness for kids and Olympic training. The possibilities are endless. The city and residents gain the best of both worlds with this investment.
Dr. Derrick Donnell
The old golf course property is a potential treasure for the city. As we continue towards buildout, the availability of a property such as this, coupled with its location, will be nearly impossible to find. Although this is private property, stakeholders have worked tirelessly to reach a solution that is agreeable to all parties. I support purchasing the property, provided that all environmental issues have been addressed and the asking price is reasonable. As we move forward, we must be creative in our thinking to ensure its financial feasibility. The concept of a botanical garden is a possibility worth exploring.
Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, city-wide elections meaning all registered voters within the city may cast a ballot in each race.