- By Lulu Ramadan Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
BOCA RATON — The Boca Raton council took the last step in a lengthy negotiation process Tuesday night. The result: a new championship golf course in the city’s northeast end.
With little discussion, the city council approved a bond issuance on behalf of the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, a separate taxing body that will buy a dilapidated 212-acre course on Northwest Second Avenue, formerly Ocean Breeze Golf Club, and transform it into Boca Raton National Golf Club.
The financing mechanism is the last step in acquiring the course for $24 million. The deal was hanging on minor, but critical details since ironed out between the park district and city council, which has agreed to sell Boca Raton’s western golf course, on Glades Road west of Florida’s Turnpike, to a home developer for $65 million, but promised to keep public golf in the city.
“I dare say, 10 years from now, very few people remember what buildings we put up,” Councilman Robert Weinroth said. “But they will remember that we kept this space open and available to our residents.”
The vote to approve the bond only narrowly passed, 3-1. The fifth council member, Andrea O’Rourke, recused herself from voting “in an abundance of caution” because her husband’s employer, Bank of America, bid on the bond issuance, she said.
Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers voted against the bond issuance. Rodgers said the price tag for Ocean Breeze was far too high, a complaint that has constantly lingered over the deal since it came to fruition over a year ago.
“I’m super excited about golf in Boca. I have extreme hesitation about the price,” Rodgers said. “But there’s certainly worse things to spend money on than open space in Boca.”
It could cost up to $18 million more to design and renovate the golf course, park district officials have said.
Boca Raton officials aim to time the opening of the golf course with the anticipated closure of Boca Raton Municipal Golf Course.
If timed properly, city employees working at Boca Raton Municipal could transfer to the new course.
Boca Raton Municipal will cease operation some time before May 2019. Developer GL Homes bought the land and plans to build more than 500 homes there.
The park district will hire at least three of the 15 full-time employees. There are also 35 part-time employees, but many of them work at multiple parks in the city.