City approves new upgrades for Colony West Golf Club • Tamarac Talk
By Agrippina Fadel
According to Tamarac Director of Parks and Recreation Greg Warner, the Colony West golf course must purchase new tee boxes and bunkers to meet industry standards.
Although funding comes from Colony West revenues and does not affect the city budget, the project still caused a stir at the June 8 city commission meeting, Commissioner Marlon Bolton and Vice Mayor Mike Gelin questioning its necessity.
Warner said the city purchased the Colony West Club in 2011 and saw it as an opportunity to preserve green space within the community.
“The owners of the club were not doing well with their business and accepted proposals from developers who were looking to build on the golf course,” he said.
Warner added that the city owns the club but has an agreement with Indigo Golf Partners (formerly Billy Casper Golf, LLC) to manage and maintain the golf course and related amenities as part of their responsibility.
Although the golf course’s greens were renovated in 2018 and remain in excellent condition, he said the tea boxes and bunkers needed updating to reflect the quality of the course.
“We know this through online golfer feedback, staff observations and industry standards,” he said, adding that the American Society of Golf Course Architects recommends replacing starter boxes at least every 15 years.
“It hasn’t been done in the 11 years since the city purchased the course, and we can’t find any record of any renovations done in the previous 20 years,” Warner said.
He explained that the Colony West course, designed in the 1970s, does not have officially established tee boxes for women and seniors, and the proposed project will solve this problem.
“The course is moving in the right direction,” he said, adding that revenue is growing every year and more people are choosing Colony West as their golf club of choice.
Total net income for all Colony West operations through April 2022 reached $881,706, and the club averages 6,300 rounds of golf per month on the championship course alone, 5,700 more than at the same time last year.
Course renovations will include tee shaping and laser leveling, soil amendments, planting of Bermuda grass, architectural design for bunker renovations and drainage improvements.
The estimated cost is $654,837, of which $232,714 is allocated to the tee boxes and $422,123 is planned for the renovation of the bunkers. The budget also includes a 10% contingency for a total amount of $720,000.
Gelin had many questions for Warner and city staff, asking how many other cities have golf courses (Plantation, Sunrise, Davie, Hollywood, and Pompano Beach all have one) and how Colony’s quality and revenue West compare themselves.
He then asked City Manager Kathleen Gunn if it was the city’s position to preserve green spaces, to which she replied, “yes, as a general rule, as much as we can, when we can.” .
Gelin asked the staff if there was a long- or short-term plan to sell the course and if the city had any proposals from the developers about it. Gunn responded that the city had no plans to sell Colony West and had no offers in development.
Gelin said he spoke to the owner of Woodmont Country Club, who “is not happy about having to compete with a government agency for customers.”
“He thinks he has a better golf course and better facilities, and he’s a taxpayer. We use some of his taxpayers’ money to fund his competition,” Gelin said.
Warner then reminded Gelin that the project was funded by golf course revenue, so taxpayer money was not being used.
“Indigo Golf establishes an operating budget each year, and anything extra goes into net cash flow so that renovations are funded from that source,” he explained.
Commissioner Bolton questioned why the $720,000 needed for the project was not part of Colony West’s $11 million renovations.
Christine Cadjus, director of financial services, explained that the funds for the five-year renovation which ended in 2021 had been spent.
After listening to Gelin and Bolton ask many questions, Commissioner Elvin Villalobos said he would like to encourage his colleagues to inquire during agenda reviews before the meeting so staff are prepared to respond.
Gelin then said he wouldn’t vote for the renovations because he “doesn’t support the Colony West project as a whole” and hinted that he had no confidence in him.
“We spent $11 million on a no-tender contract, we don’t know what’s going on and if the former city manager had a side deal and is being paid for that as well,” he said. , referring to Michael Cernech.
During the thorough financial audit, no corruption was uncovered, Villalobos said, so committee members “should refrain from suggesting it”, adding that Gelin “must consider his words with caution”. .
Gelin then said he was considering requesting a forensic audit. City Attorney John Herin said Gelin would need to get the support of his colleagues to move forward.
Villalobos said he sees the renovation project as an investment in the future and that it is great to have quality golf facilities for residents.
“Any business I work on, I like to invest the profits in future projects, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here. Not doing that will cost more in the long run,” he said.
Commissioner Debra Placko said she was happy that Colony West was making a profit. “To maintain our standards we need to renovate, and we use club funds to do that. I have no doubt that they will continue to do well,” she added.
Mayor Michele Gomez reminded her colleagues that the property was offered to the city on a short sale for $3 million and the commission then considered it an investment in the community.
“As we all invest in our homes, sometimes we need repairs. We have hired a management company to look after this property for us in order to earn money and reinvest in the club, so that it continues to grow and be successful,” she added, saying that she thought the city’s investments in the course and amenities would eventually be returned.
Gomez said Tamarac strives to become a destination and give people a reason to visit.
“Colony West may be that reason, especially with the future opening of the hotel.”
The renovations contribute to long-term sustainability, increase golf revenue, attract more golf events and improve the overall golfer experience, Warner said.
“There is a direct correlation between course quality and revenue, and we saw that in 2019 after the greens were renovated,” he said, adding that the project will take 3-4 months and be completed. during summer and early fall, outside peak golf season, but during turf growing season.
The resolution passed 4-1 with Gelin voting no.
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Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and earned her master’s degree in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has resided in the United States for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.