Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Community Redevelopment Plan approved by council

Decision may pave way for takeover of Golf Club

By MCKENZIE CASSIDY, mcassidy@breezenewspapers.com

The Cape Coral City Council approved a number of motions Monday night that will help to improve the city's southern district overseen by the Community Redevelopment Agency.

The council approved the new Community Redevelopment Plan. It allows the agency to begin the process of taking control over the historic Golf Club of Cape Coral after the agency's boundaries were expanded in June.

"It is the heart of the city. That golf course, in my opinion, is something that can generate that growth we need," said Mayor Jim Burch.

The Golf Club, owned by Florida Golf Ventures, has been closed for three years. The Redevelopment Trust, paid for by tax increment funds from residents living around the golf course, will front the funds for the course and the CRA will enter into a lease-purchase agreement.

"Over a period of years the title will be transferred to the CRA," said John Jacobsen, executive director of the CRA. "I don't see where it would become a burden to the city."

Councilmember Bill Deile said he is concerned about whether city funds would subsidize the golf course.

The city works off of a tax base of approximately $540 million and any revenue from incremental changes to that tax roll is given to the CRA, explained Mark Mason, financial services director.

Jacobsen said 10 separate golf course operating companies have been contacted and that the agency would sub-lease maintenance of the course to the company chosen. The costs could range from $1.5 million to $5 million to rehabilitate the grounds, he said.

A large group of south Cape Coral residents attended Monday's City Council meeting and stood in approval of the golf course takeover. Some residents, though, spoke out against the deal, stating that golf courses are failing across the country and that now isn't the time for the city to become entangled in the takeover.