By Steve Plunkett
The Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District wants the city to pay part of the cost of rebuilding the Ocean Breeze golf course.
District Chairman Robert Rollins calls it “Erin’s question” — “How much are they going to give us from the sale of the municipal course?” — after Commissioner Erin Wright first raised the issue months ago.
Wright and her colleagues are sure to seek an answer from the Boca Raton City Council at the next joint meeting July 23. At the May 9 joint meeting, two Boca Raton residents asked council members the same thing.
“I would encourage you to seriously consider not burdening the new golf course with so much debt when there is a substantial amount of proceeds coming from the sale of the existing golf course,” resident Kevin Wrenne said.
Barry Tetrault called the $65 million the city will reap from the sale a “windfall.”
“I haven’t seen or heard anyone on the City Council even acknowledge the fact that they’re going to put money into the [Ocean Breeze] golf course. That’s scary, it really is,” Tetrault said. “Are you going to chip in for the financing of this course?”
Mayor Scott Singer replied that the council has not discussed how to spend the $65 million.
Rollins, at the next Beach & Park District meeting, summarized the reaction.
“It was like watching a hot potato getting tossed there on the council — nobody wanted to touch that. ‘Well, we’ll get back with you, we haven’t thought about that yet,’ ” Rollins said.
Commissioner Craig Ehrnst agreed with Wright and Rollins.
“I don’t think we should foot the bill for everything,” Ehrnst said.
Their request to help pay for reconstructing Ocean Breeze raised alarms on the city side that the district may be running out of money.
“We’re hearing … that they’re wanting us to participate [in rebuilding Ocean Breeze] and we have no plans or anything in the budget or forecast for funding that sort of thing,” City Manager Leif Ahnell told council members a week after the joint meeting.
“We have a number of other projects that are already on the books to be funded by the Beach & Park District that we’re having concerns they may not be stepping up as our partners to pay their fair share, in the millions and millions of dollars,” Ahnell continued.
City Council member Monica Mayotte, at a candidate forum before she won her seat in March, said some of the money from the golf course sale should go toward Ocean Breeze.
“That makes sense — golf for golf,” Mayotte said then.