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Golf course buy gets another look

February 6, 2014
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

What is the city to do about the vacant golf course property on Country Club Boulevard, which closed in 2006?

City Council members discussed that issue Wednesday at a Committee of the Whole meeting in council chambers at the urging of Councilman Jim Burch. Some citizens and groups have begged the city to purchase the property and return it to use as a golf course or city park.

"The purpose of this meeting was to find out what the focus of council members' interest in the property is," said Burch. "I'm not optimistic about the city buying the property. I'm on record against buying it, but it doesn't hurt to keep our minds open about trying to preserve that 175 acres."

The general consensus of council members was that the city could not afford to purchase the property from the owner, Ryan Companies. The owners emailed City Manager John Szerlag recently asking if the city was interested in it and what the timeline might be, while informing him they had three offers on the table.

"The owners are not bound by the city in any way," Szerlag said. "They can sell it at any time. We don't own it. We can't control it."

A figure of $1 million to $2 million was raised by a couple of council members as possible for purchase, but those figures likely are nowhere near what the owner wants.

"I don't know if the owner has any offers," said Burch. "It's zoned R1, single family with open space or parks and recreation uses. Parks and golf course uses have been discussed in the past along with other development being mentioned.

"Bottom line is we have an opportunity at least to look at buying it," added Burch. "This has gone on longer that it should already."

In the end, council authorized Szerlag to reach out to the owner to find out an asking price on the property and report back to council within 30 days.



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