Updated: More than 200 people attending golf club meeting
By BY DON RUANE
Originally posted on February 21, 2007
During a show of hands poll, the audience overwhelmingly backed a use that includes a hotel, convention center and golf course.
The audience also indicated that a combination of city and private investment should be used to acquire the property.
Bertolini is thanking the residents for attending the townhall and urged them to attend Monday's 3 p.m. workshop.
The council will probably set another date to make a decision about its course of action.
Several residents are asking the course be converted to a park.
Resident Helen Glover said the city should consider how times have changed.
“There are drugs. There are predators. If we’re going to open a park of such a large area it better be well guarded for our children,” Glover said.
Some participants talked about different to acquire the costs.
People who own property along the course might buy an additional piece of land, suggested Palm Tree Boulevard resident Pablo Banderas said.
State laws would make it very expensive for the city to acquire the land, Stewart said.
Courts usually set the price at the highest and best use, which would be residential, Stewart said.
An appraisal requested by the city looking at the property for residential uses set the value at $28 million.
“It is a council decision. It’s a community decision. We have to wrestle with the dollars,” Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pohlman said.
Parks can increase property value, he said.
“I stand ready to work with the council and this community to determine what can be done,” Pohlman said.
The city will need another golf course for the public when the city builds out, Pohlman said.
There are grants worth as much as $6 million that the city could apply for, Pohlman said.
The meeting is being interrupted to resolve fire safety issues.
Access paths are blocked, by the audience, creating a dangerous situation, City Manager Terry Stewart said. Fire fighters are stationed just outside the building to help if something happens, Stewart said. He is giving people instructions on how to evacuate.
No one is being asked to leave.
Two men with opposite views energized the audience.
“The golf club should remain a golf course,” said a man in a red shirt, who drew applause.
"My question to use is where do you think we’ll get the money to buy this,” Bertolini said.
Another man came forward and said, “As a taxpayer I would not like to revitalize the golf course. It could be revitalized for schools,” His comments drew loud opposition from the crowd.
Bertolini reminded the audience everyone has a right to their opinion and that she might stop the meeting if unpopular opinions are not respected.
The Cape Coral fire department is not allowing any one else into the building, which has reached its capacity. More than 200 people are in the room.
Bertolini said a fire inspector is on his way and may ask some people to leave. Members of the audience are squeezing closer together to clear the aisles.
More than 150 people are packed in the Cape Coral Association of Realtors building for tonight's townhall meeting on the future of The Golf Club.
Extra chairs are being set up, but people are still standing around the edges of the room.
Councilman Tom Hair plans to present a proposal at Monday’s city council workshop to create a 100-yard-wide buffer owned by the city around the course to protect adjacent property owners and allow development elsewhere on the property.
The buffer would be used as a perimeter park with bike, and jogging paths. Mixed use development would be allowed within the perimeter park, Hair said.
A large turnout is expected at tonight's townhall meeting on the future of The Golf Club in Cape Coral.
The 6:30 p.m. meeting was called by Cape Coral Councilwoman Dolores Bertolini, whose district includes the property. The city is trying to decide whether it should try to purchase the 175-acre property for use as a golf course or a park. The council is expected to talk about the club next Monday.
"I want to hear from the residents. I want to present everyone's views. There are varied opinions," Bertolini said.
Many residents around the edge of the course want the city to buy it and keep it as a golf course. They protested in 2005 when the Lee County School District tried to buy the course and use it for five schools. The district withdrew its offer.
"The residents of Cape Coral remain determined to preserve this treasure for today and generations to come. The daily emails and phone calls I receive prove to me their commitment has not wavered," said Mary Neilson, who organized a group to save The Golf Club.
Bertolini said she has heard from many residents. Some are environmentalists who want to keep it green space, Bertolini said. Another person suggested calling the school district to see if it is still interested in the land for schools.
Tonight's hearing is being held at the Cape Coral Association of Realtors building in Club Square. The address is 918 S.E. 46th Lane. go to news-press.com for updates throughout the meeting.