The city’s decaying municipal golf course clubhouse will live for at least a couple more years.
The West Palm Beach commission on Monday went against a city staff proposal to tear down the clubhouse and restaurant and build a temporary modular building for $200,000. It agreed instead to spend up to $400,000 to repair the existing structure until the city has enough money and a plan for a new clubhouse.
The commission held off an official vote until next week, when it is to receive a breakdown of the repairs needed to bring the building up to code. The special meeting on the golf course came on the same day Mayor Jeri Muoio announced that the city is facing an $8.4 million budget shortfall for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
The clubhouse at the city-run golf course next to Forest Hill High School is a gathering spot for south end families and is also used for banquets and community events. But a consultant last year tested its air quality and found fungus, musty odors and water stains along with leaky roof issues.
E.R. Bradley’s Hole in One rents space there, and managers of the restaurant and bar complained it would kill their business if they had to buy or rent a trailer to work out of for up to five years while the city obtains the funding for a new multimillion dollar clubhouse.
At Monday’s meeting, south end resident Gail Levine called the clubhouse the “Club Med of West Palm Beach.”
“With all the money spent on legal fees for cases lost by the city, I hope you can find the funds to do the necessary restoration so that we can continue this jewel we should all be very proud of,” Levine said. “Not too many cities have a municipal golf course that is as exciting and enjoyable.”
Former City Commissioner Robbie Little, who serves on the city’s golf advisory committee, warned commissioners that tearing down the clubhouse without a new one in place would be detrimental to the golf course.
“That’s just going to cause economic damage that it will probably not overcome,” Littles said.
The last rehab to the clubhouse was a minor one in 2009, bringing carpeting, painting and ceiling tiles, said Dorritt Miller, deputy city administrator
A complete rehab of the city’s golf course would cost $1.5 million, but patching up the clubhouse to make it viable for about two more years would cost up to $400,000, said Danielle Slaterpryce, the city’s engineering director.
She said that would include roof repair, floor and wall replacements and a new electrical system. The clubhouse would still have to be closed for about six weeks while asbestos is removed, she said.
Commissioner Shanon Materio, who represents the south end, said it made more sense to pay slightly more to rehab the current clubhouse than to tear it down and use a temporary trailer.
“We’re talking at least four to five years to put up a new structure and that is assuming the city gets back online and its tax base gets strong and we can bring in another source of revenue,” Materio said.
Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell urged the city to consider expanding the billboard on Interstate 95 next to the golf course to allow ads that could help fund a new clubhouse. Mitchell said that plan would require state approval.