Sunday, July 30, 2006

Neighbors fret on eve of closure

By Pete Skiba
Originally posted on July 30, 2006

Nice backyard views, rising property values suddenly threatened

Go back a block or two off Cape Coral's four-lane Country Club Boulevard where the houses show their backs to The Golf Club and tranquility reigns.

The neighborhood that circles The Golf Club remains a place where people say hello to someone walking along the side of the street, traffic is practically nonexistent and a sign tacked on a door says, "Come on in. We're in the pool out back."

But residents have become anxious about what could happen to their neighborhood with the closing of The Golf Club on Monday.

"We have suburbia out the front door, and wild kingdom out the back door," said Chuck Davis, 52, who lives on Southeast 41st Street. "I'd hate to see that change."

Davis points out the sliding glass door at the rear of the home he bought two years ago. In the lake on the golf course, a lone blue osprey stands looking for fish, frogs or other prey.

Otters. Egrets. Red foxes. Bald eagles. A stork named Walter, or Winston, depending on whom you ask, all have homes around the golf course.

"Walter has been coming back year after year," Davis said. "He has become so much a part of the neighborhood, we named him. Our neighbors call him Winston."

Residents bought their homes or had them built in the area around The Golf Club with the expectation that the course would always be a part of their lives.

"I moved in eight months ago," said Victor Ramirez, 38, another resident of Southeast 41st Street. "It is really bad the club is closing. This is a very nice place. I want it to stay nice."

It seems natural that people whose backyards have views of the golf course wouldn't want anything else in its place.

"The view is just so beautiful out back," said Nancy Singleton, a five-year resident of Southeast Ninth Court. "I'd like it to stay a golf course. A park would come in second."

Although residents spoke of their quality of life in the neighborhood, there is no escaping economic reality for those with golf-course views and for those without. Some said Wednesday that they believed their home values could be in jeopardy if The Golf Club was not reopened as a golf course.

The Parrillas — Bernadette and Julz — had a home built on the other side of Southeast 41st Street with no view.

"We built this house in 2001, knowing it would hold value with the golf course across the street," Bernadette Parrilla said. "Now we don't know what's going to happen."

But people in the area don't seem to be putting up for-sale signs and getting out because of the golf course's uncertain future. Streets in the area seem to have the same amount of for-sale signs as other sections of the Cape.

"I think people are selling their homes for whatever the reason other people in the Cape are selling their homes," said Jill Modell-Dion, a sales associate with Sellstate Advantage Realty Network and a golf-course-neighborhood homeowner herself. "I don't think The Golf Club is the major reason."

A group calling itself "Save Our Recreation" wants to make sure The Golf Club remains a golf course. The spokesman for the group is business consultant and former Cape Coral mayor Joe Mazurkiewicz. The group's Web site address is

The group announced that it would make sure any prospective buyer for the golf course would know that there are significant problems with water, sewer and irrigation-line capacities in the area. Easement agreements in place would not favor development, and development would not fit the city's comprehensive plan.

"I believe we should also make public, to a potential buyer, the formation of a well-organized and funded group of residents who are opposed to the loss of the recreational facility," Mazurkiewicz said.

Another Web site,, also has information on the issue.

Neighborhood residents opposed an attempt mounted by the Lee County School District to buy the 175-acre club and turn it into a five-school complex last year. The opposition worked, and the board dropped the plan.

"It looks like is time to put the sign up again," Davis said. "The sign says, 'Help Save The Golf Club.'"