Under the first deal that would take the golf courses off the county’s hands, The Savannahs at Sykes Creek Homeowners’ Association would acquire control of The Savannahs Golf Course in Merritt Island. The second deal is for a nonprofit called Golf Brevard to take over the operations of The Habitat Golf Course in Grant-Valkaria and Spessard Holland Golf Course in Melbourne Beach.
Brevard County, Fla., appears to be closing in on deals to get rid of three county-owned golf courses, the Brevard County-based Florida Today reported.
Under one proposed deal, The Savannahs at Sykes Creek Homeowners’ Association would acquire control of The Savannahs Golf Course in Merritt Island, Fla. County staff and homeowners’ association representatives plan to continue negotiations, and report back to county commissioners next week with a proposal, Today reported.
“I do want government out of the golf course business,” County Commission Chair Rita Pritchett said during the nearly four-hour County Commission workshop on the issue on March 15. Pritchett hopes, with continued negotiations, there could be “a win-win” agreement for both the county and the HOA, Today reported.
Meanwhile, a nonprofit organization of local residents called Golf Brevard wants to take over the operation for the county’s two other golf courses—The Habitat Golf Course in Grant-Valkaria and Spessard Holland Golf Course in Melbourne Beach, Today reported.
Commissioners were less expressive about their thoughts on the Golf Brevard group’s proposal during the workshop—except for Commissioner John Tobia, who criticized some components of the plan. But Tom Becker, who chairs the nine-member Golf Brevard Steering Committee, said after the meeting that he believes he has the support of a majority of the commission, so that his group’s proposal can move forward, Today reported.
Pritchett said it is “a very exciting thought” that Brevard County may be close to getting out of the golf course business, which has proven to be a financial strain for the county and its Parks and Recreation Department, Today reported.
The Habitat and The Savannahs are 18-hole, par-72 courses. Spessard Holland is an 18-hole, par-67 course, Today reported.
According to the offer presented by Sonia Bosinger, an attorney for The Savannahs at Sykes Creek Homeowners’ Association:
• The Savannahs golf course would revert to the homeowners’ association, and a newly formed community development district would lease the golf course property from the association for at least 25 years.
• The county would pay the community development district $960,000 to cover deferred maintenance on the course, in three annual payments of $320,000 apiece over the next three years.
• The county will provide the community development district a $1.2 million line of credit, with a fixed interest rate of 1.25 percent, to be repaid over 15 years. The homeowners’ association would obtain what’s known as a “surety bond” to collateralize the loan, assuring that the county would get its money back.
Bosinger said she will work with HOA board and county staff to fine-tune the offer so that commissioners would be amenable to its terms, Today reported.
According to Golf Brevard’s proposal for the other two courses:
• The county would provide the nonprofit organization a “startup transition fund” of $390,000, if Golf Brevard assumes control of the courses on October 1; or $250,000, if Golf Brevard assumes control of the courses on January 1, 2019.
• The county would provide Golf Brevard a $200,000 line of credit.
• Golf Brevard would start to repay the county’s investment when the nonprofit’s financial reserves reach $500,000, which Becker expects to occur within three years.
But Tobia raised concerns about the Golf Brevard proposal, saying there were no provisions for an interest rate, no collateral mentioned, and no schedule for how long the agreement would extend or a specific date for when the nonprofit would begin paying the money back. “I look at this as taxpayer money,” Tobia said.
Most of the speakers at the meeting supported the plans proposed by the Savannahs HOA and by Golf Brevard. But there also were some speakers from the Aquarina Beach and Country Club residential community, south of Melbourne Beach, where residents took over a golf course on the property in 2012. They spoke against the Golf Brevard plan, contending that the county subsidizing Spessard Holland represents unfair competition for their nearby competing course, Today reported.
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