By Steve Plunkett
The Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District started the new year with an interim executive director and was set to advertise for a replacement.
District commissioners reassigned Executive Director Art Koski to be construction manager of the district’s soon-to-be-built Boca National public golf course; Assistant Director Briann Harms was elevated to interim director.
Commissioner Erin Wright, who pushed for a formal job description of the executive director, motioned to change the job duties and conduct a nationwide search for the new director at the district’s Dec. 17 meeting while commissioners discussed Boca National.
“It’s a bombshell,” a surprised Commission Chairman Robert Rollins said as Wright coupled her motion with one appointing Koski as the architects’ go-to person at the district.
Commissioner Craig Ehrnst quickly seconded the idea.
“I’m not interested in adding another role,” he said. “The executive director role has a lot of things going on just on all the regular stuff.”
The job shuffle came as golf course architects asked commissioners to pick a person to coordinate with them as plans for Boca National develop.
Wayne Branthwaite of the Nick Price/Tom Fazio design team said he will have course plans by the end of February and hopes to begin construction by August. The course would open to golfers in October 2020.
Koski and Branthwaite were still computing the new course’s price. The course, which will include a championship 18-hole layout, a nine-hole short course, a giant putting green and a full-length driving range, will cost about $10.5 million. A cart tunnel under Northwest Second Avenue may cost $1 million.
The district bought a third of the land for $5 million cash and borrowed $19 million via bonds from the city for the rest. A 15,000-square-foot clubhouse/community center will be built after the course opens.
City Council members have not committed to paying for any of the project, saying they want to know what the final cost will be. The city expects to close its $65 million sale of the municipal course west of Boca Raton in May.
Koski in July shed his role as the district’s legal adviser, a position he had held since 1978, to focus more on the golf course project. He had received $150,000 a year for his legal work.
He was being paid $120,000 a year as executive director. His salary as construction manager was to be negotiated.