By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer
In an effort to move on from “bogeys of the past” as 20-year PGA Golf Professional Rick Heard put it during a meeting, the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District cast a unanimous vote to decline the City’s proposed amendment agreement on Boca National Golf Course at its first business meeting of 2020.
Commissioner Craig Ehrnst made the motion to reject on Jan. 6, with Commissioner Robert Rollins seconding it – to a round of applause from the audience after the vote.
The next step was for the District’s Briann Harms to write a letter to the city rejecting the deal, review the budget with Merv Timberlake, prioritize district projects, and come up with a plan to present to the Board for approval to implement the golf course.
In December 2019, the City presented the District with an amended agreement that would have ceded more control over the golf course to the city, while forcing the district to potentially absorb more of the project’s cost.
At a Jan. 13 Boca City Council Workshop, Harms was called to the podium by Mayor Scott Singer to speak on the District’s decision.
Council Members said they were under the impression the city’s proposal was in round one of negotiations, and that further negotiations would be forthcoming.
Harms, who stated she is the Beach & Park District’s Executive Director, not a voting member, held firm to the district’s wish to reject outright the proposal.
The district wishes to stick with the current deal, which requires design approval of the golf course by the city.
Harms later called section16C of the proposed ILA “the icing on the cake. They gave themselves on off ramp and none for us. The agreement in totality was very one-sided.”
Harms concluded that negotiations with the City over the golf course have been ongoing for at least 10 months and the District is ready to move forward.
“We can do this project. You guys have Brightline [and other projects to think about],” she said.
The district will fund Boca National by re-prioritizing the funding of some current and future projects. Eliminating some proposed aspects of Boca National – notably an onsite hotel — reduced the estimated cost to $13.4 million, in line with what City officials requested.
Harms estimated it would take about 5 years for the district to complete the project on its own.
Boca National, to be built on the site of the former Ocean Breeze Golf Course in Boca Teeca will include a Price Fazio designed 18-hole golf course, an 11-hole short course, practice facilities, a learning center and a temporary clubhouse. The facility will be open to the public.
At the end of a Boca council meeting, some council members remained hopeful a renegotiation between the two boards could be salvaged.
The two boards met on Jan. 27 after the Feb. edition of the paper went to print.