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From Green to Red: With Golf Course Buy, Flagler Beach Fears Going Palm Coast’s Way

| March 8, 2013

Ocean Palm Golf Club is at the southern end of Flagler Beach, rimmed, in a rough rectangle, by dozens of homes.

Ocean Palm Golf Club is at the southern end of Flagler Beach, rimmed, in a rough rectangle, by dozens of homes.

Flagler Beach officials are looking into whether the city should bid on the failed the Ocean Palm Golf Club course at a foreclosure sale.

The prospect of running a municipal golf course is daunting, especially with evidence of staggering losses at Palm Coast’s city course, which taxpayers have had to subsidize heavily. But there’s strong interest in making sure recreation is the only use of the 34 acres between Central Avenue and the Halifax River, a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean, at the southernmost end of town (not far from the city’s water tower).

So far, Flagler Beach officials have preserved the land for recreation through zoning, sticking to their conviction despite a court challenge from the owners.

Several years ago, the Ocean Palm Golf Club Partnership requested a rezoning to allow construction of 164 homes on the golf course property, which was built in 1959 and opened in 1960.

Current City Commissioner Kim Carney was on the commission when the golf course rezoning was requested several years ago, and the panel rejected the request by a unanimous vote. The golf course owner challenged Flagler Beach in court, saying the city had taken away its property rights by refusing to allow construction of 164 new homes. But the city had always intended for the land to be recreation. The court sided with Flagler Beach last year.

“We just won that lawsuit,” Carney said. “They cannot force us to rezone. With all the stormwater problems that property has, it would be against the city’s best interest to allow new construction.”

Carney said her interest in the golf course is “having it so no one else could do anything to it except keeping it recreational. If you own it, you have control. If you don’t own it, you can’t control it it other than through zoning. There’s nothing to say a commission 10 years from now couldn’t rezone the property.” Rezoning the golf course, even in the future, appears unlikely to Carney. “It’s going to take a lot to get that rezoned,” she said. “I would personally never rezone it.”

“I also don’t personally want us to own it,” Carney said, referring to the city. She opposes using city reserves to buy property. She also opposes paying $1.7 million for the golf course, which is the amount of the mortgage.

However, nobody knows what the purchase cost will be. The property was foreclosed on in December 2012 and will be sold at auction at the Flagler County Courthouse. The city will likely bid.

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A foreclosure sale is schedule for 11 a.m., March 27 at the Kim C. Hamond Justice Center, 1769 E. Moody Blvd., Building 1, in Bunnell, in the civil-criminal department on the second floor. City officials were notified of the sale roughly a week ago, leaving little time for leaders to determine whether Flagler Beach should get involved and bid on the land.  City officials said residents have been asking if the city will buy the golf course. Most of the approximately two dozen people who spoke at a special City Commission meeting Thursday evening (March 7) urged the city to buy and re-open the golf course.

No vote was taken, but City Manager Bruce Campbell was directed to provide options for discussion at the next regular City Commission meeting on March 14, in the Commission chambers at City Hall.

“There are a number of options that are available right now,” Commissioner Steve Settle, whose house is one of the dozens that adjoin the property in question, said. “I don’t think we’ve got a lot of info on what would be best for the city of Flagler Beach.”

Even if commissioners had wanted to vote on March 7, they couldn’t. Two commissioners were absent from the special meeting (Joy McGrew and Marshall Shupe). Because Settle owns a home next to the golf course, he would have recused himself from voting because he might benefit from city action to buy the property. Two commissioners would have lacked the quorum necessary to conduct a proper vote, and likely wouldn;t have anyway, so as not to deny their colleagues the chance to have a voice in the matter.

The golf course has been closed for the past several years. It was a par 33, nine-hole golf course that played at 2,318 yards from the back tees and included a driving range. Settle said he bought his house long before he ran for the commission because he wanted to live next to a golf course and he would like to at least see the land continue to be used for recreation.

“The peace and tranquility of it is why I purchased the property,” Settle said. “That it could change, I’m not wild about that. I’d like to see the peace, tranquility and ocean breezes blowing across the property stay, but I can’t participate in the decision.”

Running a municipal golf course without sinking tax dollars into operations is extremely difficult. In response to a request from Flagler Beach’s city manager, Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon provided financial statements from that city’s operations of the Palm Harbor golf course, which show annual operating net losses of $28,303 in 2010, $15,272 in 2011 and $90,890 in 2012.

A note from Landon stated that Palm Coast had spent $4 million on a complete rebuild of its Palm Harbor golf course. “We have established an enterprise fund for the operating cost, but each year we have run a deficient (deficit) in the fund that is supported by the general fund,” the note states.

16 Responses for “From Green to Red: With Golf Course Buy, Flagler Beach Fears Going Palm Coast’s Way”

  1. confidential says:

    How come Kemper runs in 2012 an over 90,000 budget deficit in the Palm Harbor Golf Course when I see on just weekdays upwards of 60 parking spots ocuupied by cars of players playing the course …?

  2. there are three sides to every story says:

    Whats the problem here? Stick to screwing up City business and don’t add to it…The course was nice while it lasted but you don’t buy a sinking ship with your eye wide open not to mention the unending expense….and where is the money coming from? If the city acted like a private business. that had to show a profit every year or go under…….oh well you know the answer!

  3. Dirty Old Person says:

    I say turn it into a nudist colony for 65 or older. Charge admission for sightseeing and rent binoculars .
    Flagler Beach would make a fortune .

  4. Dave says:

    Hey Dirty old person, You might be onto something there but I say we lower that age from 25 to 65 , Let’s be fare about this now.m

  5. anon says:

    Don’t do it!
    Stick to what you do and that is running a municipality. Leave golf course operation to golf course operators and investors.
    But if you must and you want to unduly burden the taxpayers then the city should run the entire operation.
    The last thing Flagler Beach should want is to be like Palm Coast. The proverbial all gloss and little substance, all hat and no cattle. It jumped into owning a golf course when golf course owners were getting out of the golf course business. Palm Coast is in a money losing situation and the tax payers have to subsidize losing propositions with the golf course and tennis center.
    The only ones making money at the golf course and tennis center is Kemper Sports.
    Be smart and pass on what some may try to sell as a golden opportunity.
    If it’s so golden why isn’t it open?

    • Johnny Taxpayer says:

      I’m not so sure Palm Coast is really loosing money on the Golf Course. Sure the profit and loss statement may show a deficit of $90k last year, but in reality, what about the difference in property tax assessed values between 200+ houses on a functioning golf course versus 200+ houses on an abandoned overgrown field?

  6. Magicone says:


  7. flagler lover says:

    I say Buy the land ,and turn over management to someone experienced in golf courses.Flagler beach would be a much better area than palm coast ,due to the number of vacationers and retirees in the area .
    Look at the profit margin of the previous owners of the golf course ,and bid low

  8. Recall Man says:

    As usual Landon’s numbers are “off” 2012 combined LOSS for the City tennis and golf topped $450,000.
    The $4 million is actually $5.6 million and the City just moved it into the base “assets’ of the City because it was obvious that it was a first rate loss / deception of the Taxpayers.
    But the real story is that Netts-Landon-Meeker-and Co rebuilt the golf course with our 5.6M for the former
    owner, a developer and will allow 154 new “Golf Villas” to be built on the Driving Range and the present wood chipped parking lots [Yes thats why the lots are not paved and have RRtie curbs] Stop in at the planning dept and ask to see the plans.
    All this while giving the new Villas preferential Tee Times over the Taxpayers ! Then our Planning Dept has to compromise and rubber stamp the “stupid” of the Big Three.
    WOW that Jim Landon really knows how to negotiate for….us. He could not do it alone, the wingnuts…… I mean wingmen need some credit too !
    To the property owners near this Flagler Beach golf course, beware there is no worse neighbor than the government because they make the rules.

  9. glad fly says:

    oh yeah let’s buy a golf course now to add to out troubles. brilliant!!

  10. h&h says:

    I use to golf at Palm Harbor but the course has been in terrible shape and when questioned about it I just get a bunch of B.S. both from the city manager and Kemper managment.. If Flagler goes down this road it’s going to be bumpy.

  11. markingthedays says:

    I personally think it would be great! A boon for tourism and the city. Buy the property low, then contract out the management. Flagler Beach Municipal Golf Course! Love it!

  12. Magnolia says:

    Recall Man: Where do I sign?

  13. Papa Flip says:

    Flagler should but it and lease it to an expierinced operator. They can also lease out the grill. It is the same thing they are doing with the pier. This provides three revenue enhancements: First the lease revenue used to amortize the bonds that purchased the property, Second it increases the value for all of the neighboring homes and condos thereby increasing tax revenue, Third it ends the cost of defending the periodic law suits over the recreational zoning since the town controls the property.

  14. Ted Malecki says:

    If you buy it, Rec department should run it, no need to pay golf pro, need good maintenance supervisor keep cost down.

    • William says:

      First of all you need to cut the grass there you can see there is a golf course underneath all that. I myself would like to rent or lease to part of the clubhouse is still there. To maybe put hamburgers and hot dogs and stuff like that for the people that go into play golf. They will not make a fortune off the golf course. You could use it as a rehabilitation golf course for people in the army. Air Force and Marines and navy the veterans administration will be a great contribution to the cause. We need to think outside of the box once in awhile. I myself can walk maybe nine homes. But 18 would be way too much for a man in my age from a physical disabilities from the military. Look on the bright side. Just cut the grass and there is a golf course there. A lot of our commissioners have never seen the golf course when he was in good condition we can make it better for good about all the restaurants and all that. All we need a showcase. If you want people to come to the beach they can drop off their kids play nine holes of golf and have a good day. Then they can combine have a hamburger at the clubhouse. Maybe find a small area to build a swimming pool. You have a school in Daytona that teaches golf. Both management that is great opportunity for them to come over here in work and figure out what kind of diseases are in the grass and how it could be repaired. Lake City Florida has one of the best golf schools and nation for management. I’m looking forward to talking to the city Manager about how things could be improved in this area alone. Give this town a chance. The discount showed that they have a community that cares about to happen to the golf course. When you show up to a city commission meeting you have 3 minutes to express yourself. I know of a lot of good people would’ve loved to speak longer. No one’s going to pay to go to the park. And play Frisbee golf. Or have a walking trail. It’s not going to make any money is not gonna generate any revenue. We need to quit acting like were palm coast. That’s the reason we live here and they lived there. They come to our beach. Until a few people enough to manage this golf course. The city has its own public utilities this is what they get paid for cutting grass maintaining the area for public. Well I said enough. See on the first hole.

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