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Parkland takes first steps to spend millions to control future of golf course – Sun Sentinel

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PARKLAND — Encouraged by Heron Bay residents to “step up” control of a development project, Parkland city leaders have unanimously agreed to begin the process to purchase a defunct golf course. It will help give the city the final word on what development would go up on the spot.

They have yet to commit to buying the course, but on Thursday they instructed their staff to embark on a long to-do list to get to it, including evaluations and a market analysis.

“There is a long way to go,” warned Mayor Richard Walker.

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If all goes according to plan, Parkland is expected to bring in about $25.4 million toward the sale. They hope to recover $7.1 million from the city of Coral Springs for the city’s portion of the golf course, although Coral Springs has not yet put that commitment to a vote.

Parkland also hopes to recoup money from whatever developer is ultimately chosen to build a mix of new homes, restaurants and retail space, but whether it will make money, break even or worse is anyone’s guess.

Even if the city loses money, it could be considered an “investment” in the city, Commissioner Jordan Isrow said. “We may not get every penny back.”

Until then, Parkland will incur an additional financial cost: about $250,000 to $300,000 each year until it is sold for upkeep, as well as legal fees for title searches. There could also be more money if the Heron Bay Community Association waits for payment to deliver its easements along Heron Bay Boulevard.

“I think we have a right to be compensated,” Mark Bosua, president of the Heron Bay Community Association, told commissioners.

The Heron Bay Golf Course opened in the late 1990s and closed in 2019. It spanned both Coral Springs and Parkland from the Sawgrass Expressway at Coral Ridge Drive.

In March 2021, the North Springs Improvement District, the water district serving the area, purchased the golf course. He wanted 150 acres for a stormwater project to prevent flooding, but bought the 223 acres for $32 million.

The nearly 70 acres that remain were sought out for development and the improvement district sought out developers. But residents rallied when the proposals came in, fearful of what could be built in their backyards without their consent.

Parkland has now pledged to step in and further assess what it would take to purchase the land, potentially turning it over to a developer in a project that will make many, but probably not all, residents happy.

“We’re not doing this because Parkland wants more land,” Isrow said.

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Having an “eyesore” was the concern with a “nightmare scenario” of too much development, Commissioner Simeon Brier said. And the city wants to make sure it maintains its “chic country community” and “Parkland character and charm” without becoming a regional destination.

“Residents see a train approaching them at 100 miles per hour, and they have asked the city to step in and discourage that train from approaching them,” Brier said. “It affects their backyards, it affects traffic, it affects schools, it affects their property values.”

City officials said Parkland has $30.8 million in its reserve fund; just $10 million of that is already committed elsewhere.

“Do we have the funds available? Yes, we do,” said City Manager Nancy Morando.

Residents remain optimistic. They said they have more faith in a good outcome if their city chooses the developer, rather than the improvement district, even though the city could end up buying the improvement district land at a higher cost per acre.

“This is a historic event that they are embarking on,” said Jim Weiss, a Heron Bay board member and vice president of the Parkland Historical Society. “We are going to have a leap of faith in the commission.”

Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at [email protected] or 954-572-2008. Follow @LisaHuriash on Twitter

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