The course in the Cypress Lakes community in Elkton, Fla., once had 27 holes, but was scaled back to 18 in 2011. But 50,000 rounds are still played there each year, and the county is exploring ideas that include selling the part of the property that is now unused for golf, in exchange for the developer paying for an overdue course overhaul.
St. Johns Golf Club, the only county-owned and operated golf course in St. Johns County, Fla., is almost 30 years old and overdue for some kind of overhaul, The St. Augustine (Fla.) Record reported.
The improvement plan that would be instituted, and how it would be funded, are two major issues yet to be decided, but the county could start the process of answering those questions at a meeting of the County Commission on August 7th, The Record reported.
At that meeting, The Record reported, the Board will decide whether to begin the request for proposal (RFP) process for the St. Johns Golf Club, which is located in the Cypress Lakes community in Elkton, Fla.
The Commission will be presented with construction documents provided by LarsenGolf, which received $135,000 to design a remodel of the course with 18 holes. The course had once offered 27 holes, The Record reported, but was scaled back to 18 in 2011, as the number of rounds played declined. The unused holes are still part of the golf course property.
Upon reviewing the plan from LarsenGolf, the Commission can decide to put that out to bid or could even ask for a new plan, The Record reported. But even if it chooses to move forward with accepting RFPs, it won’t be committed to accepting any of the proposals.
While waiting for the commissioners to provide more specific direction, county recreation department staff has been working on ways to keep the golf course viable into the future, The Record reported.
Billy Zeits, Assistant Director of County Parks and Recreation, said golf is one of the best multi-generational forms of recreation available, and that the 50,000 rounds per year that are still played at St. Johns Golf Club show the interest is still there.
“If we didn’t have this affordable golf opportunity, I don’t know what they’d do,” he said. “Right now, we’re 100 percent focused on having an 18-hole golf course.”
To pay for what would be a complete overhaul of the course, The Record reported, one idea being examined by the county is to convey the land no longer in use for golf— about 80 acres—to a private developer. That could lead to an additional 200 or so homes being built, to go with the 500-plus homes that now exist in the Cypress Lakes community.
That developer would then agree to build a new course on the current site to the county’s specifications and be responsible for any cost overruns for the work, The Record reported.
“We would take the market value of our asset, which is the excess land inside the golf course, and find a strategy to rebuild the public asset of the golf course without any ad valorem impact at this time,” Zeits said.
It’s estimated that $3 million or more would be needed for the construction of the course, The Record reported.
“All the different ways to pay for the new course are being looked at,” Zeits said. “We’re lucky enough to have the [property].
“[But] that doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do it,” he added.
County staff have presented their ideas to Cypress Lakes residents, who have been in an “uncomfortable situation” while the county has pondered what to do about the course’s future, The Record reported. The idea of simply selling the golf course to a private company has been floated in the past, but there hasn’t been a lot of support.
“There’s been a lot of uncertainty the last few years around the golf course,” Zeits said. “The fact that the Board [of Commissioners] has been supportive of the master plan and looking at a path going forward has them really interested in what the next steps are and how they get there.”
Among the residents following the process, The Record reported, is Ken Phillips, who has lived in Cypress Lakes for about 15 years.
Phillips told The Record that all of the Cypress Lakes residents are worried about their property values, which will likely be affected to some extent by the quality of St. Johns Golf Club.
While he supports the efforts of county staff to improve the course, Phillips added, he’s not sure the county should look at just the option of totally rebuilding the course. He hopes there might be another less-costly option that wouldn’t result in so much of the golf course being redeveloped for new homes.
“There has been no RFP for any less-expensive alternatives,” Phillips noted. “We need to know what we’re really talking about.”
Also, Phillips said, this would be the perfect time to consider other neighborhood enhancements in addition to the golf course. He suggested a neighborhood park that would benefit everyone.
“Not everybody in the community is a golfer,” he said. “I was suggesting what I call the ‘central park’ idea [that] provides areas for bike paths, jogging trails.”
The commissioners should have the chance to look at plans from a community planner and not just a golf course architect, Phillips told The Record.
“The county commissioners should sit on it and gather additional information,” he said. “They just don’t have enough.”
Tell Us What You Think!
You must be logged in to post a comment.