Thursday, February 22, 2007



• What: City council workshop
• Topics: The Golf Club
• Where: City Council Chamber, City Hall, 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.
• When: 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26
• Public input: Not permitted, but meeting is open to the public


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.

Meeting of The Whole


• What: City council workshop
• Topics: The Golf Club
• Where: City Council Chamber, City Hall, 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.
• When: 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26
• Public input: Not permitted, but meeting is open to the public


Keeping Golf Club green key to plans
Cape meeting aired ideas for closed course

Originally posted on February 22, 2007
Two separate but similar proposals for the city of Cape Coral's future involvement with what once was its oldest golf course are set for discussion by the city council.

Both call for a public-private partnership to keep some green space on the The Golf Club, a 175-acre city landmark.

Councilwoman Dolores Bertolini, backed by more than 200 residents residents who attended a townhall meeting she hosted Wednesday night, intends to tell council that residents want a combination hotel, convention center and golf course.
In a memo earlier Wednesday, Councilman Tom Hair said that he will propose a city-owned, 100-yard-wide perimeter of green around the former golf course with housing and a restaurant on the inside.

The council has a 3 p.m. workshop scheduled for Monday to talk about whether the city should get involved in the privately owned property. No vote is scheduled.

Bertolini met with residents for about 90 minutes at the Cape Coral Association of Realtors building at 918 S.E. 46th Lane.

So many people showed up for Bertolini's meeting that the fire department stationed a ladder truck outside the building as

a precaution. City Manager Terry Stewart stopped the meeting at one point, declared the crowding dangerous and gave evacuation instructions just in case.

Bertolini said she underestimated the turnout when she booked the meeting room.

Other council members did not attend the session, citing concerns about violating the state's Sunshine law. The law prohibits them from discussing matters they might vote upon with other council members outside of official meetings.

Resident Paul Elia, 80, and Save the Golf Club founder Mary Neilson agreed with Bertolini that the session was productive.

"I got to learn about the feelings of other people. Most of the people here tonight have feelings like mine," said Elia, who prefers a golf course.

"It's a good step forward. We've got people talking again about the future of The Golf Club," Neilson said.

Hair's proposal is likely to keep the conversation going.

The buffer in his plan would be a park with bike and jogging paths. Restaurants and condominiums would be allowed within the perimeter of the park, Hair said.

"If we can squeeze half the land out of them for $4 million or $5 million, that would be the way to go," he said. The course is owned by Florida Gulf Venture LLC.

His proposal isn't perfect for people who live next to the course but would help the whole city, Hair said.

"We're not doing it just for them. We're doing it for everybody. We can't have an eyesore in the middle of the city," he said.

The city council agreed last year to have two appraisals done before making a decision on whether to buy the property. One appraisal said the land is worth $28 million if it is put to residential use. The second said it's worth $13.8 million if used as a golf course.