As regards the acquisition and operation of the former Ocean Breeze golf course, the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Parks District (The District) met on January 6 2020 to discuss the City of Boca Raton’s amended interlocal agreement (ILA) dated December 20th. The City met January 13th. The consensus by The District was that the amended ILA materially changed the original February 2 2018 ILA. Comments made in the meeting indicated The District thought it was onerous and would put The District “in financial ruin”.
Note the last sentence in above letter to the city. The District voted 5-0 to reject the proposed ILA amendment, withdrew from further discussions with the city, and will continue to perform in accordance with February 2 2018 ILA.
Key reasons The District rejected the amended ILA:
- Opening paragraph of February 2018 ILA states “to provide funding ……for a public golf course”. The amended ILA states “development of park and recreational properties”.
- It doesn’t guarantee the land will be used for ”public purposes” after the bond maturity date.
- The District is required to give up all rights to the East location which the District purchased for $5M along with all development responsibilities.
- City could close the golf course in event of default by District but City has unlimited options to cure any default of its own.
- It allows the City to walk away in its sole discretion after completion leaving the District to pay all costs and expenses including the $19M in bonds . You can read it in the amended ILA in section 16C.
The tentative plan The District discussed was to extend the spending of up to $13.4M over a five year period. They would spend half a million in 2020, $5.2M in 2021 for a nine hole course, $4.3 in 2022 to add another nine holes and $3.4M in 2023/2024 to complete the course with a driving range and short course. It was not clear to me what the City plan is. They are spending money on Request for Proposals (RFP). Both BPD and City plans will be complicated due to the possible extension of ClintMore Road which goes through the middle of the course.
At the January 13 2020 Council meeting, they seemed confused by District’s rejection of the amended ILA. The District Executive Director, Briann Harms, restated why they rejected the amended ILA and that they had no intention of continuing talks. Harms stated they will continue to work under the February 2018 ILA. Harms pointed out that the February 2018 ILA has a clause that the City cannot “unreasonably withhold approval of The District’s design”. Harms also said that since The District is short on funds, they want relief from paying roughly $1.4M each year to the City CRA in order to fund the new course.
Points to Ponder
- What happened to the partnership discussed for last 3 years?
- Will the City abide by the original ILA approved and signed by City in 2018?
- What will happen to the $10M committed by the City for this project?
- How will the District’s taking five years to build the course affect the sale of Boca Muni?
- If the Park District is forced into bankruptcy and if the City walks away “at its sole discretion” the course could lay dormant for years.