Dear News-Press Editor,
I am pleased with the thoroughness of the Golf Club Feasibility Study. City staff has done an excellent job of addressing each of the scenarios I brought forward to City Council back in October. After reviewing the document only two possibilities stand out in my mind.
The first is that we buy the Golf Club outright and turn it into the Central Park of Cape Coral for all time. We will never again be presented with a situation to buy 175 acres of parkland located near the population center of gravity of Cape Coral at a price commensurate with parkland use. Council just increased, by a factor of four, the amount of parkland required per 1000 residents. Add to this our ever-growing population and we have a clearly defined need for additional recreation facilities. You might ask why not a golf course, and the simple answer jumps right out of the report; a golf course may serve around 20,000 residents while a central park will serve all 165,000 of us. It is simply a case of doing the most good for the most people.
The second is that we provide incentives, possibly through a land use change, to allow a private resort company to buy and operate the Golf Club as a golf and mixed-use resort. The previous owners could not turn a profit as currently zoned, so we have no alternative but to provide an avenue by which a new owner can. This is the most straightforward solution and has little financial impact on the city, but at the loss of being able to write our own community destiny for the land.
One final comment concerning the last line of exhibit one; annual operating profit and loss is a bit of a misnomer when considering investment in parks and recreation. The city has a duty to provide recreational facilities to all its residents and is budgeted accordingly. Any monies spent or debt incurred is an investment in this obligation… parks and recreation is not a profit center for the city. Additionally, I do not suggest that if we buy the Golf Club that we spend beyond our current parks and recreation budget, where possible, but to redirect that budget to attain this long-range goal of a Central Park of Cape Coral that would instantly become the centerpiece of our city parks system.
Thomas W. Hair
Councilmember, District One