Golf may yet return to the former Ocean Breeze course in Boca Raton, though not for a while.
Discussions between the city and the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, which owns the roughly 200-acre property that was part of the Boca Teeca community, ended when owners of The Boca Raton donated the resort’s 18-hole course and clubhouse. It became Boca Raton Golf & Racquet Club, which replaced the Boca Municipal course.
District board members, however, kept talking up golf. Some noted that Boca Municipal had included a short, nine-hole course that older and time-pressed golfers enjoyed. The new layout is just 18 holes, and the course is harder.
Susan Vogelgesang is district board chairman and an avid golfer. Based on comments from residents, Vogelgesang said of golf, “The public wants it. The golfers want it.”
In addition, Vogelgesang said, there’s strong demand for nature trails. It seemed at one point that pickleball also might be an option. Vogelgesang notes that the district is building 18 courts at Patch Reef Park that will open next year.
But while the district owns Ocean Breeze, the city would have to approve any plan. Though city council members would have no problem with trails, they might object to a golf complex that draws players from the city’s course.
Vogelgesang said, “Whatever we do doesn’t have to encroach” on the new layout. She suggested that Ocean Breeze could be home to a reversible course, a creative concept in which two players can share every hole and greens have two holes. Such courses require less land. Multiple tees can accommodate all skill levels.
In addition, the district might include a teaching center and a putting course, both aimed at kids. “We want to grow the game,” Vogelgesang said.
But does the district have the money? Those earlier discussions with the city got contentious because the district had claimed that it had the money to buy Ocean Breeze and build a course. In fact, the district wanted as much as $15 million from the city, which council members opposed.
Board member Erin Wright said the trails would come first. And golf? “Not next year,” Wright allowed. Perhaps the district could seek “partnerships.” Vogelgesang said trails and golf are “dobale,” but golf “could take 10 years.”
Wright said she and Briann Harms, the district’s executive director, will take a “first step” by speaking to the city’s parks and recreation board. That’s easier to schedule than a meeting of district board members and city council members.
“It can get very complicated,” Wright said. “So we need to know what the city will approve.”
The district paid $24 million for Ocean Breeze, which seems even more overpriced than it did at the time. For the moment, that investment is returning nothing to the public. Perhaps soon, that will start to change.
Boca to discuss Mizner Arts Center lease
At their Tuesday meeting, Boca Raton City Council members will hold the first of two hearings on the lease of land in Mizner Park for a performing arts center.
The Boca Raton Arts District Exploratory Corporation (BRADEC) hopes to build a $120 million complex that would include the Mizner Park amphitheater. The second hearing will take place in a special meeting on Aug. 22. I’ll have more details in my Tuesday post.
An update on Boca’s state Senate seat
On Tuesday, I reviewed the campaign finance reports of candidates for the Florida House seat that includes Boca Raton. Here’s an update on those seeking the state Senate seat that includes Boca Raton, Delray Beach and all western suburban areas as far north as Wellington.
Democrat Lori Berman is the closest thing to an incumbent. She now holds a Senate seat that includes the northern portion of the district. The new District 26 displaced Tina Polsky, who is running in a district that now includes Broward County. Berman, who served eight years in the House and has served four years in the Senate, has raised about $125,000.
Two Republicans are running in the Aug. 23 primary for the chance to challenge Berman. One is Stephen Byers, who lives in West Delray. The other is William Wheelen, who lives in Wellington.
Byers has raised $1,800, all of that from a loan to his campaign. Wheelen has raised $6,800, most of that in loans.
On his website, Byers says that Florida “needs less liberal (or communist) pressure in the legislature.” Byers says his profession is beekeeping. Thus he has “taken the stings of bees to put honey on your table. I will take the stings of politics to put honesty in your government.”
On his website, Wheelen says, “The American Dream is under attack from within” because “career politicians and elitists like Lois Frankel and Joe Biden. . .seek to control every aspect of our lives.” Frankel, whom Wheelen mentions several other times, is a member of Congress, not the Florida Legislature. There is no mention of Berman.
Palm Beach County’s underwhelming tax cuts
Palm Beach County Mayor Robert Weinroth, whose district includes Boca Raton and Delray Beach, touted in his newsletter the commission’s reduction of the property tax rate. Spoiler alert: Don’t expect a windfall.
The cut from $4.78 per $1,000 of assessed value to $4.71 will save the owner of a $500,000 home $35. Even with the Save Our Homes annual cap on increases for tax purposes, however, that owner will pay more overall because of rising values. The cap, though, will be especially welcome this year, with values rising countywide 13.55 percent and about as much in Boca Raton and Delray Beach.