Thursday, February 22, 2007


Majority want The Golf Club to be hotel, course; meeting uncovers growing consensus among residents for future of property


A loud, standing room only crowd mostly agreed The Golf Club needed to stay a golf course with a hotel and convention center added on, during a town hall meeting on Wednesday night.

Of the more than 250 people in attendance at the meeting called by District 4 Councilmember Dolores Bertolini, less than 20 took a dissenting opinion.

“It would be very nice if they had a hotel there with all the amenities,” said Mildred Murphy, a 20-year resident of Cape Coral. “If you look in the southeast area of Cape Coral there’s hardly any open space.”

Bertolini was surprised by the large crowd — even once joking the fire marshall may come in and ask people to leave — but she was even more shocked those attending came to a consensus.

“I was first shocked that that many people came out and I was surprised in the end that they could all come together because they seem to be fractured with so many ideas, and they all came together on that one issue,” Bertollini said. “The mood has changed a little from the way it was last year. Last year they didn’t want anything there but the golf course. Now they are saying they would like a convention center, hotel, et al.”

Most residents who got up and spoke in the very densely packed Cape Coral Association of Professional Realtors building supported keeping a golf course in some facet, whether it came with a hotel or not. Also, those in attendance agreed the city should have a hand in the development and form a public private partnership.

City of Cape Coral Economic Director Mike Jackson said he is not allowed to disclose any information about negations between a business and the city.

“Private businesses do their business in private,” Jackson said. “In reality this is between the seller as a private sector person and the marketplace. Nobody can force them to do anything.”

City Manager Terry Stewart did allude to a possible private developer coming in to purchase the land for a hotel/golf club resort.

“There has been someone that has expressed an interest,” Stewart said. “We cannot tell you who it is. That would be a wonderful thing to happen, that would probably help solve all these dilemmas.”

Ten-year Cape resident Fred Nuzzy thinks the city can make some money off of buying the land and then reselling it to a resort developer.

“I’d like to see it stay as a country club,” the homeowner whose property is 500 yards from The Golf Club said. “Also if they’re selling part of it off, so the city isn’t responsible, put a hotel in there. I think that would add to the value of the property and also offset some of the cost of running the club.”

Nuzzy said he would have no problem with the added traffic associated with a destination resort.

One person in the minority thought the city would make a big mistake if it went with the majority of the citizens.

“I wouldn’t want to see the city do that, I don’t think that’s the chief criteria for this development,” said Phil Parsons, a 5-year resident of the Cape. “Just a golf course would be a mistake to do with the city funding. They should use it as a park for kids and general recreation.”

Parsons, who lives near the Midpoint Bridge, thinks people would benefit more if the land is left undeveloped.

“This city doesn’t have enough parks at all for general recreation,” Parsons said. “I understand people want a golf course. There’s gotta be a way to do both.”

Bertollini will take the results of the town hall meeting and present them to the other members of the city council during the committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 26.

She said it’s time for the city to do its part to resolve the matter.

“We have to do something or the land sits there and everyone loses the value on their home,” Bertollini said.