By: Sharon Aron Baron
secret special meeting was called in the city of Tamarac that was so special, not even the citizens or media were notified about it. During the city commission meeting the day before, City Manager Michael Cernech never mentioned there would be a meeting the very next day during his four-minute announcement.
The meeting involved voting for a new half-million-dollar, five-year contract for a new management company for Colony West, a golf course the city bought in a short sale in 2011 for $3 million. Since August, the golf course had been closed because the management walked away saying they couldn’t make a profit.
In late September, Cernech told the commission he was getting proposals and that he would be presenting them at one of the October workshop meetings. Still, according to the agendas, these proposals were never discussed at a workshop. Instead, they went immediately to a special meeting for review and a vote on the same day.
There was no reason this vote couldn’t have taken place during a regular city commission meeting so that citizens could speak publicly about the millions it could potentially cost them.
You have to take control and ‘manage’ this and not to leave it to ‘lesser’ likes, to put it politely.” – Vice Mayor Harry Dressler on sending a Press Release out immediately after voting for the new management deal.
An evaluation committee headed up by Finance Director Mark Mason chose Billy Casper Golf out of Vienna, Virginia, out of an initial pool of thirty applicants narrowed down to three.
Mason stated that he had experienced from the last several cities that he worked for budgeting for golf courses and making them profitable. However, upon further research, the City of Cape Coral says otherwise when the current financial services director was quoted in 2011 saying, “My concern is the golf course historically has not made money.”
According to Sun-Sentinel, on November 1, the new management contract with Billy Casper Golf will be effective in running the golf course, restaurant, and pro shop. However, the city has to pay the company over $497,000 to manage the course and $250 000 for start-up costs. The city’s income will come from food, drink, and golfing fees.
Some of the expenses that the city (taxpayers) will have to pay for are:
- $150,000 in upgrades to carpets, bathrooms, and possibly the A/C units
- Fence installation along the course to prevent pedestrians or school children from walking through the courses
- Bahama shutters on the maintenance unit that they can keep locked
- Redo the parking lot in the next two years.
- Landscaping in the front
Staff could not say what, if any, profit they expected to make from the golf course.
So, the commission voted to award a contract without financial data about the golf course operation.
The resolution to award the contract passed unanimously. The city estimated Colony West would reopen on January 1, 2014.
Talabisco also stressed that now it was a done deal. It was a good time to get a press release out. Vice Mayor Harry Dressler said, “You have to take control and ‘manage’ this and not to leave it to ‘lesser’ likes, to put it politely.”
“Yeah, we know,” said Talabisco.