Preserving the Residential Character of Boca Teeca

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

4-1 Vote by City Council to Support Park District Purchase

Last nights 7+ hour city council meeting included a 4-1 vote in favor of the city lending funds to the Beach & Park Disrict (BPD) for the purchase of the closed Ocean Breeze golf course.  Only city councilman Jeremy Rodgers voted against the purchase - amazingly he is running for re-election in the March election of 2 city council seats.  Councilman Rodgers has been the loan council member to indicate his lack of support for the purchase since the last joint meeting.   The property acquisition appears on track for a Feb 28th closing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Purchase Moving Forward

Deputy city manager George Brown made a presentation at this week's Beach & Park District (BPD) meeting in which the negotiated InterLocal Agreement appears to be moving forward for the 2/28/18 closing.  The agreement now calls for the BPD to purchase the East property for $5 million and the title will be in their name alone and not subject to the agreement. The western portion of the property will be subject to the Interlocal agreement as the city will be providing funding for this purchase for $19 million and the title to this property will be in the name of the city until the BPD pays off that loan.  There is a Joint meeting of the BPD &  City Council on 2/28 with time and location TBA, but this is expected to be a back slapping event which will celebrate the acquisition of the 212 acres that will become Boca Natinoal Golf Club.

Several more meetings are scheduled as follows:
1/22 -1:30pm - City council workshop meeting-Public comments are available for speaking
1/23 -6pm - City coucil meeting / final approval of the ordinance to allow the city to borrow funds that will be loaned to the BPD for the purchase of the western portion of the former Ocean Breeze property per the above mentioned InterLocal Agreement.
1/29, 2/1 & 2/12 - 5:30-8pm+ / BPD Public meetings at Sugar Sand Park for interviewing the architectural companies that have responded to the RFP for redesigning the new Boca National Golf Club.  Each of the 15 companies will have approx 30 minutes to make their presentation and provide Q&A from the District commissioners (no public comment until regular BPD meeting).  These meetings should be very exciting as the new golf course proposals will eventually lead to the improvements that benefit all residents.
2/5 -5:15pm -BPD regular meeting, but this maybe changed due to scheduling conflicts with the Boca Raton golf championship (PGA Senior tournament) that the BPD is co-sponsoring with the city.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

City Staff Providing Poor Direction?

The Boca Raton city coucil workshop meeting on Monday provided further insight into the uncooperative efforts of the city staff in providing consistent direction to the city council.  The Interlocal Agreement proposed by the City Staff was very "aggressive" and was not consistent with the past Interlocal agreements in which the city financed the acquisition of Sugar Sand Park and Ocean Strand.  In both of these agreements the title to the property was held jointly and there were no other requirements or restrictions regarding the properties.  Both of these loans were paid-off early and the city transferred the title to the Beach & Park District (BPD) without any unresolved issues.

Council member Rogers seems to be particularly out of touch with this process as he had several questions about issues that were not even part of the draft Interlocal Agreement.  At the end of an hour-long discussion the City Council determined that there was too many unresolved issues in order to make a decision on the initial ordinance to start the lending process.  It is strongly recommended that council members who have questions attend the Jan. 16th meeting of the BPD at 5:15pm at Sugar Sand Park/most council members indicate that they were available on the 16th at this meeting.

The city council appears to be poorly informed about the cooperative financial arrangements that the Beach &  Park District has with the city, that is, 70% of the tax receipts paid to the BPD are paid to the city for maintaining the parks.  The BPD has used over $13 million of their funds for improving city-owned de Hornle Park and would like to spend another $7 million to expand that park on adjacent city-owned land.

Regarding the city's attempt to force the BPD to hire current city employees at the current municipal golf course, the city is getting $65 million from the sell of that property so they should have realized these employees would not have a job at the city once this property was sold.  But, there is an easy solution to this issue, that is, the city could use $6-7 million of these proceeds to buy the Hidden Valley closed golf course and turn this into a city-owned park and these employees could be reassigned to maintaining this park.  Mr. Tuttle stated at the P&Z meeting that he would be willing to sell this property at the same per acre price that the BPD is paying for the Ocean Breeze property which would be $6-7 million.

City council members coming up for re-election should be very mindful that if this deal is not completed by Feb. 28th, then there may not be an incentive for thousands of local residents & golfers to vote for their re-election a few days later.  Residents may also which to email or call the city council at 561-393-7708 in order to communicate their displeasure with the lack of cooperation by the city.

The next meetings of the city council are Jan. 22nd at 1:30pm and Jan. 23rd at 6pm.  It would be expected that the Ocean Breeze issue will be on the agenda under the BPD Interlocal agreement discussion, so be prepared to attend this meeting and speak in favor of a cooperative Interlocal agreement so this 2-yr process can be completed amicably.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Park District Optimistic on Terms with City

At last night's meeting of the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District (The District) executive director & District attorney Art Koski provided an optimistic update on the negotiations over the terms of the borrowing through the city to complete the acquisition of the Ocean Breeze property.   There were several negative issues in the draft of the proposed agreement by the City staff which Mr. Koski has discussed this week with city manager Leif Ahnell that indicated the city's willingness to be more flexible of some of the controlling terms.  Assistant city manager George Brown has been the point person within the city and Mr. Koski indicated that he is out of the office until Thursday at which time they will continue these negotiations.

The borrowing agreements in the past between the City and the District have included he joint title to the property being acquired and no other restrictions on either party regarding the operation or oversight of the acquired property.  Accordingly, the City should be able to agree to similar terms since they have already agreed to sell their current municipal golf course to GL homes for $65 million and they should welcome the opportunity to place the cost and operating responsibility of a new Boca National golf club onto the District.

This agreement is expected to be on the agenda at the City workshop meeting on 1/8/18 at 1pm and there will be an opportunity for public comments at this encourage the city council decision makers to be as cooperative as their predecessors were in the past in providing financing to the District for the acquisition of land for public parks.  Residents should consider attending this meeting and speaking in favor of a very cooperative agreement by the City in order to facilitate this acquisition by the District.

At the District meeting there was also discussion about the selection of an architect and their team for  re-working the acquired golf property.   The District will hold a meeting on 1/16 in which they expect to decide how many of the 15 companies they will select for interviews on 1/25 & 1/26--these meetings will not be open to the public under state of Florida statutes.  The RFP responses will be able for viewing by the public after 1/20 as there is a 30-day delay from when these
RFPs were received by the District.  All commissioners and Mr. Koski were confident that the selected "team" will provide a great golfing facility which will be available to District residents at a price discount from the general public.

There will also be a District meeting on 1/29 that is scheduled to discuss the golf course course, but it was not clear if this meeting will be open to the public since the selection process is exempt from public meeting requirements.  District commissioners did indicate there will be opportunities for golfer/public input into the development process after the architect team is selected, so please stay in touch with the District commissioners or attend District meetings if you wish to have input into this process.  The estimated completion date of the Boca National golf club is estimated to be 18-24 months from the closing of the purchase on 2/28/18 which should be shortly after the closing of the current city owned municipal golf course.