Selling Precious Public Land to Pay for Years of Neglect

Delray appears prepared to sell 6-10 acres of our municipal golf course, precious public open space, in what amounts to little more than a quick fix.

The City Commission envisions a Public Private Partnership to capture private money to renovate our long-neglected course and corroded water pipes underneath.  

Would we sell 100 feet of public beachfront to maintain the rest of the beach?  

This is about more than golf and golfers.  It is about environmental sustainability, open space, wildlife preservation and conformity with our Comprehensive Plan.  It is also about history.

The southern nine holes were designed by Donald Ross one of the foremost golf course architects in America. The northern nine, where the city wants to sell the land, was designed by Dick Wilson, one of the noted golf architects of his day.  

This course was named one of the top 10 municipal courses in the country. World famous golfers such as Gene Sarazen and Tommy Armour have graced its greens and hung around the clubhouse spinning stories. Betty Jameson, one of the 13 women who founded the LPGA, played here as well for many years.  

Three of the 15 elements of Delray’s Comprehensive Plan address the preservation, maintenance, and expansion of public lands, not the auctioning them off.

Another issue to consider is that the City doesn’t really know what it is getting in return.  How many holes will be lost and will there be enough space left over to build the new holes? Will the new holes be of championship quality? What is to become of the graceful Florida vernacular clubhouse, restaurant, and grill? And will consideration be given to wildlife preservation and native plantings?

Have alternative funding strategies been carefully analyzed? Lumping the cost of the water pipe replacement into the cost of the golf course renovation makes the project appear much more expensive, effectively stacking the deck.  

City officials in Dunedin, which is embarking on a mission to restore its tired, 18-hole Donald Ross course, has estimated renovation of the course at $3.8 million, far less than the $10 million Delray hopes to generate selling public property.

A golf course master plan was written in 2015 at the City’s request. For seven years, it has languished.  

We are rushing to a strategy which was not proposed in the golf master plan, does not comply with City’s Comprehensive Plan, is poor environmental policy and does not add to the historical preservation that we proudly promote.

City residents and businesses deserve better.

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