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Palm Coast’s $9 Million Scam at Taxpayers’ Expense

| January 15, 2016

palm coast palm harbor golf scam

Your tax dollars at work in Palm Coast. (c Nate Weigle)

Since 2008, Palm Coast government has been engaged in a colossal boondoggle at taxpayers’ expense, propping up a money-losing private contractor to run the city’s golf and tennis centers for no justifiable reason other than that the city is in too deep to get out. Year after year, the city has downplayed the losses and done everything it can to pretend that it’s not as bad as it looks. But it is. And it’s not getting better.

pierre tristam column flaglerlive I’m referring to the Palm Harbor Golf Club and the Palm Coast Tennis Center. Both are run by KemperSports, a private company based in Illinois. I have nothing against KemperSports. They can’t be faulted for not breaking even, let alone running a profit, when they have a tax-funded sugar daddy as their backstop. They’re milking their sugar daddy very effectively. But if they’re doing so, it’s because of the indifference of the Palm Coast City Council and its administration. After all, it’s not their money. It’s ours.

Kemper just gave the council an update, thanks to Bill McGuire, the only council member who seems genuinely concerned about what’s turning into a running gag, or a scam, at taxpayers’ expense. But even he was oddly silent when Kemper revealed its latest barrels of red ink, with more of the same for years ahead. The numbers Kemper presented are bad enough.

But they’re not nearly as bad as the true numbers you’ll find in the annual audit reports, which total up actual losses, not rosier projections and rounded numbers the administration projects at budget time. Tallying up those numbers from those audit reports, the golf course since 2009 has averaged losses of $212,000 a year, for a total of $1.5 million. That’s not the total loss. Add to that the depreciation costs, which go into the true operating income or loss column in every audit report, and the total loss rises to $3 million. Add to that the $5.5 million the city spent to renovate the club eight years ago, a figure the city conveniently wrote off its books and public memory, and the total bill to taxpayers, money they will never see again, rises to $8.6 million. (See the detailed numbers in the chart below.)

The tennis center in comparison has been less of a disaster, but it’s still averaging an annual loss of just over $111,000. Add that to the overall total, and we’re up to $9.3 million in losses since these two money pits opened. And for what? For an exclusive service that serves a relatively small group of people. We don’t need Downton Abbey’s equivalent of leisurely services for the few supported by a mass of servant-taxpayers in Palm Coast.

On WNZF Friday morning Milissa Holland, the former county commissioner and now a candidate for Palm Coast mayor, defended the Palm Harbor and tennis subsidies, saying that ITT built Palm Coast in the 1970s around golf and tennis, with the city’s old Players Club, the tennis center, drawing a few big names in its heyday. Holland is right. But That was the 1970s and 1980s. This is not her father’s Palm Coast anymore (Jim Holland was a founding member of the city council). Nor, by the way, is it the Palm Coast of current Mayor Jon Netts, who would be handing the torch to Holland, his long-time protégée.

Palm Coast Golf and Tennis Operation Losses, 2009-2015

YearGolf Course Operating LossesGolf Course Losses With DepreciationTennis Center Losses
Capital spending on Palm Harbor Golf Course Palm Coast wrote off: $5,534,878.
Combined tax dollar spending and losses on golf and tennis operations that the city will never recoup: $9,348,692.
Sources: The figures for 2009 through 2014 are taken from Palm Coast Government's annual audit reports. The figures for 2015 are taken from a January 12, 2016 presentation by KemperSports. The depreciation figure for that year is an estimate based on the average depreciation of the previous six years.

Golf is a dying sport. It is newspapers made of greens: those who still walk those greens are, like newspaper readers, themselves dying. The sport of Dwight Eisenhower’s and John Updike’s generations is giving way to more space-conscious, more time-conscious, more environmentally conscious younger people. Those younger people are less inclined to seek escape from a spouse on golf courses, less willing to cheat their family of entire mornings or afternoons, and justly queazy about treading fanatically manicured acreage that does our environment no favors.

To cite the National Golf Foundation’s numbers (the same foundation KemperSports cherry-picks for cheerier figures, like how many golf-“interested” residents live within the radius of its cemetery), golfers by 2014 had declined by 7 million since a peak of 30.6 million in 2003, with the steepest drop among golfers 18 to 34 years old. TV ratings for the sport are worse than Tiger Woods’s fidelity record. Golf courses have been closing by the hundreds every year. If ITT were building a community today, it wouldn’t build it around golf courses but more family-centric, less narcissistic amenities. We’d be better off doing what Japan is doing–turning its useless golf courses into energy producing solar farms.

So to hear Holland buy the party line about Palm Coast’s golf traps shows her to be hung up on the same-old assumptions of her political and biological fathers and belies whatever hope we may have that her candidacy will bring a younger, healthier outlook to public policy on the fustiest, most timid local government board in the county. Her mention of the Players Club was also indicative of quite the disconnect. The Players Club today is a literal ruin and as poignant an emblem of the sport’s arc as we have in Palm Coast. And like so many golf courses these days, it’s primarily a playground for rattlesnakes and history. We can–and you certainly can, Milissa–do better. I say this having been among Holland’s biggest fans (and editor).

The city has since 2015 been peddling the falsehood that the golf and tennis clubs are like city parks, part and parcel of city amenities. It’s a nice marketing concept to placate taxpayers. But it’s a lie. City parks are free. Fee-for-service clubs are exclusive. People who use city parks are numbered in the thousands, and the tens of thousands in the case of some of those parks. People who use the tennis center and the golf course are in the hundreds.

The city began operating those clubs as independent, so-called “enterprise” funds designed to make money, like its utility operation. Funds that don’t are discontinued. Instead, the city, in what amounts to a bookkeeping sham, eliminated the two operations as independent funds in 2015 and folded them into the parks and recreation budget, to better dissimulate the true losses. And the council of course went along with the ploy.

One council member described it to me it as a catch-22. There’s no money in it, but closing the golf course would hurt the neighborhoods around it. In that case, the city should also be subsidizing Roma Court, St. Joe’s Plaza and City Marketplace, whose gaping storefronts hurt commerce. But that’s not how government works—not when losses are so steep, so continuous, and benefiting so few people. There are better public uses for $325,000 a year. Subsidizing a private company so a few hundred people can play golf and tennis aren’t among them.

The council gave those clubs a good shot. But good will is over. It’s time to wake up and smell the scam.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him @PierreTristam. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.

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50 Responses for “Palm Coast’s $9 Million Scam at Taxpayers’ Expense”

  1. Buylocal says:

    I disagree. Golf is a core this community was built around. And yes, taking the course away from communities built around it would devastate the neighborhood. This is not for the few, thousands of people play Palm Harbor. I believe the money problem can be much improved by letting Kemper go and using the qualified local people we have to run the operation.

  2. r&r says:

    How about the walking trails, the parks, the boat landings etc. the city supplies with no pay back???? There are millions spent by the city for the enjoyment and health of it’s citizens with no payback or someone questioning the money spent. This course is well run and best condition it’s been in years. Get off their back and look somewhere else to whine about..

  3. Veteran says:

    I’ve lived in PC for over 10 years and never had children in school but paid school tax. Wonder how much total school tax has been collected from household with no children? It’s only fair that my golf is subsidized since most residents school is subsidized by me and others without kids.

  4. Jon Hardison says:

    I think Holland would be the first to tell you that it isn’t that simple, politically speaking.
    The side of this issue you fall on ties directly to political resources and votes.

    I recall being deeply involved in several cycles just before both these issues came up – back in the days of Jerry Full. The alliances and relationships built in that cycle contributed greatly to “The Tennis Club’s” ability to win both the Tennis Center and repairs to what had becoming one of Palm Coast’s most notorious eye sours.

    The issue of the golf course may have even created a candidate or two on its own. Remember Victor Good?
    He and his wife had the misfortune of living on that course, and as we all know, once one candidate makes something an issue, all the others better fall in line if they’re to get elected.
    It was the perfect storm in a lot of ways.

    To the best of my recollection, the issue of both the corse and tennis center sprung from the same circle of people. Wealthy residents that felt the Palm Coast they’d been promised was being overcome by weeds which was a valid view at the time. Palm Coast’s incumbents and many candidates were not only familiar with that promise. Many of them were actively involved in crafting it as ITT executives in their not-so-distant past lives.

    We’ve seen, over and over, a minority of active community members successfully sway the council in ways that were probably not in Palm Coast’s best interest. And the Council has, for the most part, mounted a successful defense against those that point out this fact. “Well, if you don’t like it, get involved!”
    And that would be all well and good if governments were build to work this way, but they weren’t.

    I know for a fact that the City Council of the time wasn’t setting out to injure anyone. I know for a fact that there was a lot of effort put in by members of the community to attempt to justify this expense. The council was promised enough interest in both these venues to not only keep them going, but see them profit, so they did what almost any city official would do when they’ve been handed proof of viability by some of the city’s most affluent / influential residents. They did as their constituency demanded and I’m not sure we can blame them for that, though we can certainly blame them for letting it go on.

    The Tennis Center may be worth the fight but the Golf Course? That was a HUGE mistake.

    I too have been a supporter of Holland in the past. Her initial run for County was happening during this time and I have no doubt that her comments on this matter reflect her continued support by some of the very same people, most of whom you’ll find out on the clay courts.

    For them, this still isn’t an issue of money. It’s simply an issue of desire, and I think most would return to City Hall to defend their use of our resources if the Tennis Center were threatened.
    But the Council’s makeup is very different today than it was back then. It would be a VERY tough sell. There are far fewer members that are familiar with these folks in any meaningful way, and even fewer that would see their support as pivotal to the success of their reelection. But Holland? She may no longer be a candidate that is capable of representing “the people” in this situation. Her comments on this issue would certainly support that idea.

    (Unless, of course, she is in possession of reliable data that disputes the facts as they’re outlined here.)

  5. Vincent A. Liguori says:

    Pierre-Excellent article! Where is the uproar from the citizens of Palm Coast? Why not convert the existing golf course into an upper scale housing or townhouse community? As for the tennis people-tell them to buy it and run it or lose it. Lastly,why not add the European Village to your list of potential city subsidies?

  6. layla says:

    Golf is hardly a dying sport and neither is tennis. I think the problem in Florida is that there are too many golf courses in this area, too much competition. I don’t think you have any choice but to raise the fees. I don’t think the economy in Palm Coast has as yet demonstrated it is strong and healthy enough to support this. According to one local state politician, we have a bad reputation here. That is why we cannot attract a booming business community. Have things gotten better? Yes, but most healthy development is taking place outside the boundaries of Palm Coast.

    What I do have a problem with are those people who were fed a line of bull and invested in golf course homes which are now endangered. That is NOT how you draw people to Palm Coast. Look at the poor people who live on the Matanzas course.

    Palm Coast has not kept many of its promises, has consistently bowed to the demands of major developers who have taken the money and run every single time and has not been well run at all and Mr. Liguori is absolutely right about the European Village. It is a wonderful place but is reduced to section 8 housing and bankruptcy. If we lose that, the entire community risks becoming Section 8 housing because nobody will want to live here. Section 8 housing is death to real estate in any community.

    If the council thinks nobody is watching this, they are mistaken. But we are stuck with current solutions that are not working because we don’t have an active voting community here. The turnout is pathetic. To me, it looks as if voter apathy is killing Palm Coast. Nobody gives a damn.

    I think its time for some public hearings to find out what the city is doing about ANY of this. We don’t seem to be getting any answers here. But that will never happen, so we’re stuck with this.

  7. Havana Woody says:

    Thank you Pierre, this is a travesty and ridicules and I personally strongly object to the condos and high density housing being built on the course . If we are talking about hurting the neighborhood guess what stop increasing density , plant trees on the course and turn it into a nice park with more trails that everyone can enjoy.

  8. Jon Hardison says:

    I rest my case.

    A price increase on the course (I know nothing of golf OR this course and it’s pricing) may the exact opposite of what it needs. That may only serve to restrict attendance further. It seems to me that this is the perfect place for some actual research. If the trends Pierre references are true, and we have no reason to doubt them, one potentially viable solution could be to make the course more accessible instead of less.
    Just a thought, but again, these aren’t my monkeys and this isn’t my circus.

    The 9 million dollar loss is a Palm Coast problem. The problem of lack of interest is almost certainly an issue Palm Coast can’t impact.

  9. parks n rec says:

    What a joke, and for someone to complain about paying for school taxes because they don’t have kids is outrageous. Florida will be in a drought in the near future, forcing farmers to come up with plans to divide water and here we are wasting water to keep grass green. Golf is dying along with the publics patience with our public representatives. Keep taking our money and we will not vote for you

  10. B says:

    I like the idea of building a solar farm. It can be surrounded by trees and not look like an eyesore plus provide lots of energy to us residents. Yes it’s expensive, but our city already wasted $9 million. That would buy lots of solar panels.

  11. Harrison H. McDonald says:

    You don’t have to be an Einstein to see the problem: too many golf courses. Counting the virtually vacant subdivisions of Grand Reserve and The Conservatory and 2 abandoned to the weeds, there are 10 golf courses in or very close to Palm Coast. The 2 that are closed need to be re-purposed as do at least 1 more. I live in Cypress Knoll and our golf course and club area is to say the least “run-down” The city should re purpose the one they own and aggressively enforce code requirements on privately owned “public” courses.

  12. Oldseadog says:

    Regarding the wisdom of our elected Palm Coast Council, I’m reminded of
    this old quote:

    Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason.

    ~José Maria de Eça de Queiroz

  13. micky Ryan says:

    I feel the present courses that aren’t able to stand on there own should be turned into parks , if everyone is paying for them , then let everyone enjoy them.
    There just might be too much competition. if I bought a house on a golf course I would not want to see it taken away but a park would probably please everyone.

  14. groot says:

    The problem isn’t golf per se, the problem is the inept contracting and a course that probably should not have been brought back. It’s a bad layout; it always was, always will be and our second to last choice around here. Cypress is worse, but not much worse for layout and pace of play . It might be time to bring in the FBI to look at some of these relationships and why the losses continued to mount unchecked. It is hauntingly like the whole Capella episode a while back. It all ends at the City Manager’s office and it’s time for him to take responsibility. It’s time for Landon to go. It is time to move on and please Jim, don’t blame golf or anyone but yourself. It is totally inexcusable for Kemper to still have that contract. The contracting relationship between the city and Kemper needs to be investigated by a higher authority.

  15. Avid Tennis Player Perspective on Poor Management says:

    I have not lived in Palm Coast that many years so have not played much golf. I do however play a lot of tennis and would like to play more at the Palm Coast Tennis Center. Read below to see why I think the Palm Coast Tennis Center management by Kemper Sports is a big part of the problem and perhaps the same applies to the Golf Club.

    My attempts to spend time and money there have not gone well. Just two examples:

    Example 1) The Palm Coast Tennis Center had an open house last Saturday that appeared to be poorly promoted. I found out about be going to their website. It was advertised as being from 11 AM to 3 PM. I was out of town that day but took the time and effort to come back early to attend the open house to play a little tennis and see what ‘masters tennis’ that was part of the open house was about. I got there at 12:45 PM, less than half way into the 4 hour open house. The organizers of the “4” hour event were packing up to leave. I told them I changed my schedule and came from out of town to attend the open house and play some tennis. I asked to speak with the pro. He said to leave my email and they would send me info on the Tennis Center which was not what I was there to hear.

    If I was selling a house and had an open house for which my Realtor left less than half way through the open house the Realtor would be fired. That is no way to sell a house and no way to run a tennis center that is losing money and needs more activity and members.

    At the very least, the pro could have said, sorry I will hit with you for a 1/2 hour, or use our ball machine at no cost, or stop in for a free clinic (at no cost to the club for a regularly scheduled clinic) – or something to build good will and perhaps end up with a paying member. But No – he was more interested in calling it a day. Probably had some personal business to take care of.

    Example 2. Being an active and competitive tennis player I have looked into joining the PC Tennis Center to play some competitive team tennis against other clubs. Unfortunately, they have a rule that you have to be a full year membership to play on a team. Though Palm Coast is my primary residence, like many Palm Coast residents, I spend months up North so I would not get my money’s worth. Common sense suggests a half time member would not only increase membership revenue but also increase related revenue.

    I could detail other examples, but it seems to me at least the Tennis Center is very poorly managed, promoted, not making it easy to get involved, and not very inviting to prospective tennis players – and is dramatically under-performing compared to it’s potential. With the current type of management you never know what tennis player you are missing for a member. I have run up to 3 teams at once – 2 USTA teams and an interclub team up North and built a website devoted to tennis to promote the game and for game matching. It does not take much imagination to realize that a tennis player like that as a member could bring in a lot of business. Too bad I have to play tennis elsewhere and leave town for competitive sports, especially since the tennis center was one of the reasons I moved to Palm Coast.

    Palm Coast has great potential to be a draw for active people. Some of that potential has been realized like in the interconnected trail and park system. I believe Palm Coast does not have that far to go to realize the uniqueness and potential it has. It is a shame to waste that potential and to not leverage the uniqueness to draw more health minded and money spending people to the city.

  16. confidential says:

    Yes I also pay taxes and very high “school taxes” but I never had a child in school here…I own a house like many thousands of other residents around the Palm Harbor Golf Course and all the above disasters suggested to turn our golf course into, will destroy the value of our community East of I-95…
    Maybe Kemper Sports needs to be changed and then those courses maybe will break even. Palm Coast was advertised by ICDC (ITT) and built around golf and tennis courses and that is why we bought here. Now newcomers want to destroy the value of our homes by shutting those courses down and turning them into litter strewn, crime laden “parks”. Can anyone speaking against these courses specially the Palm Harbor Golf one, imagine the cost to mow, maintain, and patrol that land if were to become a park? No less that what we pay now for a beautiful used golf course, and litter and gangs would be taking it over. Then would be the doom of our still beautiful East of I-95 and the worsening of the city. This time I agree with Holland and just because she wants to preserve it she gets my vote and also of the thousands of us that will be affected by the requested/suggested shut down!

  17. Splash Sand Dune says:

    I got it……Re-landscape the golf course and turn it into an Seaside Amusement Park. They can still have a Putt-Putt course inside the Park. Big Rollercoaster…………..BIG !!!!

  18. James w says:

    The abundance of golf courses is to be blamed solely of the city and county officials. If city tax dollars are paying for it then they should be playing for free. It doesn’t cost me a penny at admission to walk down walking trails or go to the park. close the course. Stop selling out to developers like the crook Bobby Ginn. Who cares if someone rich or famous wants to build something. If it doesn’t fit the community then don’t let them build the damn thing. The should put a law into place: no more new golf courses for 30 years. Let’s grow into the ones we have.

  19. Brad W says:

    I agree that the City hasn’t managed this issue the best. I agreed then, and still do now, with the City acquiring and opening the Palm Harbor Golf Club. I don’t see the issue with either facility as a problem with the particular sport in either case. It’s clear that it’s a management problem. Kemper has the wrong people in place here and they do not know tennis. In both cases it’s about the lack of thinking outside the both alternative play options to gain foot traffic and investing in smart revenue possibilities such as foot golf and adding in a few pickleball and 36′ courts to the tennis center.

    I do agree that golf is saturated in our are at this time. When Matanzas closed and Palm Harbor was being brought back 2 other courses were added . . . Conservatory and Grand Reserve. We don’t need more, and any closings of existing courses would be a huge hit for all. What people don’t understand with property values and golf courses is not really the sport itself . . . it’s view and privacy that drives the real attraction (the reason I think Matanzas becoming a park would restore values and is the safest route). A closed and unused property allowed to deteriorate will destroy surround values and becomes a significant loss of tax revenue. So you inevitably trade one loss for another.

  20. Rob says:

    This was a foolish venture from the beginning. It was sold as a self supporting entity, it will never be self supporting, neither one of them. And the blame can be laid at the feet of the town council who approved this folly. 2007 was the beginning of a severe recession, and here come these brain trusts and the golf course cheerleaders who were begging the city to refurbish the closed golf course. They thought, incorrectly, that this city could support another golf course. Golf courses could be bought for a dime a dozen, owners and operators were trying to get out of the golf course business and these blokes were busy getting into the golf course business. In fact all of the golf courses in Palm Coast were available for purchase. And why is the Matanzas golf course still closed? It is not because it is a money maker. Golf course development and operation is a business no one on the town council or city staff knew anything about. Whoever wrote the business plan for this so called investment should be sent packing. While everyone involved was patting themselves on their collective backs and announcing the opening of the golf course Kemper Sports politely slipped the city an invoice for $1,000,000, the cost for start up expenses. That money is never to be seen again. Anyone in private enterprise whose oversight cost their company seven figures would be sent packing. Our town manager is still drawing a paycheck. Anyone who has any understanding of economics could have told you this was and is a losing proposition and it that won’t get any better.

    If you live on a private golf course and the golf course shuts down that unfortunate circumstance is called capitalism. That’s the breaks. The onus is not on the taxpaying citizens to provide you with a form of corporate welfare or straight up plain old welfare. If it somehow was poor people living in subsidized housing along the golf course I am certain that 100% of those who are crying the blues and want a continued subsidy would be saying to hell with them.

    It appears that our city we will be inheriting a clone of Jon Netts in the form of a professional politician/lobbyist who seems to believe her position as an elected official is a right of inheritance. And she seems to be in support of this type of welfare/subsidy to a privileged few.

    Close it down, take your loss and move on. That money could have been spent on economic development creating living wage employment in this city. However some believe that those obdurate member(s) of the present and past town council didn’t and don’t want jobs here because that would bring families who would then change the status quo.

    And I am someone who played golf almost every day spring, summer and fall and in winter if it was at least 30 degrees.

  21. fredrick says:

    Excellent article Pierre!!! I could not agree with you more. You have masterfully masked the true meaning of your article and it’s exposure of the government welfare system.

    “They can’t be faulted for not breaking even, let alone running a profit, when they have a tax-funded sugar daddy as their backstop. They’re milking their sugar daddy very effectively. But if they’re doing so, it’s because of the indifference of the Palm Coast City Council and its administration. After all, it’s not their money. It’s ours.”

    The continuous handouts that our government gives does nothing to motivate people to, as you put it “stop milking their sugar daddy”. It is true some need some help and help is the right thing to do. But it would be one thing to give them a fishing pole, but to continue to feed them with fish keeps it as a never ending cycle. “Gold courses and “Tennis clubs” need to take responsibility for themselves at some point at least some progress and effort in being self sufficient.

  22. Veteran says:

    Vincent, how would you like a townhouse built right behind your back yard. That’s what you are suggesting for the people living on the Palm Harbor course. We have the same problem here in Matanzas Woods. My property value dropped $80,000 when the course closed. Now it’s an eyesore, but I don’t want a park, house or townhouse right behind me. I want the best golf course in the county and some say in NE Florida to reopen. Too bad it was moved to the end of the refurbishment list for political reasons.

  23. confidential says:

    Milissa where are you? Let me sign your candidate card!

  24. Rick G says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t get the correlation between the golf and tennis situation with that of paying school taxes. Would you want your community engorged with even more ignorant and misinformed students?? Education is a community’s backbone. As for the golf and tennis deal perhaps a new vendor would be in order.

  25. Jon Hardison says:

    Question: Of the homes on this course currently owned by individuals and not banks or investment firms, what portion of those individuals frequent the course? What portion of those individuals play that course thereby supporting their own home values? I’m not asking cynically. It’s an honest question.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but when you move into most golf communities you’re expected to pay some version of a membership that’s designed to support that course, are you not? There is a financial arrangement of some sort that’s designed to distribute the cost of the course and other amenities among those that reap a specific financial benefit (in this case home values) from the course, no? I could be wrong. Again… I’m just asking.

  26. Educated Opinion says:

    Let me start off by saying that this is a well written article! It seems that every time an article is written on the topic of golf…the same uninformed people give their same uninformed opinions! I have been in the golf industry my entire life and the game has been extremely good to me. I do not play or follow tennis so I cannot speak on that subject. I do have an issue, to a degree, with taxpayer dollars subsidizing the short comings of Kemper Sports. I believe that Palm Coast should try to manage the course on their own. It would eliminate the management fees and would give PC the final say in day to day operations of the course. At the very least a board of industry experts, that are city residents, should be put together to look at what Kemper has going! This way the City has someone looking out for their best interests! Closing the course is not the answer! Just the same as opening Matanzas is not the answer! I am yet to read one reply to this article that shows any knowledge of the cost associated with running, maintaining, or renovating a golf course. None are cheap! Having knowledge of the reasoning behind the renovation order of Cypress, Pine, and Matanzas…it had NOTHING to do with politics! The company managing those three courses changed the order of renovation from Matanzas, Pine, Cypress to Cypress, Pine, Matanzas for the following reasons…Cypress was considered to be the quickest and least expensive of the three, so it got renovated first. Pine was the money maker…so it went second. Matanzas was the largest scope of work and most expensive to renovate….so it was scheduled to be renovated last. Unfortunately the renovations at Cypress and Pine went way over budget, combine that with the real estate market/economy tanking…you have Matanzas in its current state! Nothing to do with the politics or conspiracy theories that certain residents of Matanzas want you to believe! I wish the best for both Palm Harbor and Matanzas Woods! Golf courses are sanctuaries for wild life and a great place for recreation! Palm Coast needs help with Palm Harbor! I would volunteer time! Matanzas Woods will never open as a golf course! Sorry but it will not happen! We are talking upwards of $10million just to get it respectable! Matanzas was once great…but if it reopened tomorrow…it would be at least the 6th best golf course in this town behind all the private clubs! I hope that from now on uninformed people keep their opinions to themselves instead of spreading rumors and innuendos!

  27. Vincent A. Liguori says:

    Veteran-Remember the real estate adage-“location,location,location”. There is always an element of risk when purchasing a home, examples, a Pine Lakes Parkway gas station in a residential neighborhood or a $250-300,000 home with a 1200sq. ft. home built next door.. Obviously, I would not like to face the circumstance you are, however, a solution must be reached that does not encumber the majority of citizens for the benefit of the few. I am confident that there is a proper solution for all parties concerned. Approach the city council and let our experts research a viable solution. Perhaps this can be accomplished by researching similar situations in other Florida cities. I sincerely wish you good luck.

  28. scoff the cuff says:

    Time to re-evaluate what the city and community will be in the future. In this county and Florida. The policies, people on councils, the eye-sores, all of it. And, how about that city charter review?

  29. Brad W says:

    Actually, in some studies I had come across in the past many owners surrounding courses don’t necessarily buy because they are golfers and play. The attraction is about view and the sense of privacy. Obviously there are only so many properties available surrounding a course and therefore supply and demand make those properties typically more expensive. With higher price paid for land yo typically get nicer homes which helps drive all values.

    In the some cases where residents are also partial owners of the course you owuld probably have that fee situation. Some HOA’s where a golf course exists may have a portion of their fees used for upkeep but all are unique. In this case where it’s a publicly owned course funded by local tax dollars it’s not just an amenity of the surrounding residents but of all residents of the City.

  30. Wshful Thinking says:

    Two roads diverged said Robert Frost…. Very difficult decision really – close a money losing golf course, keep your eyes closed and plod along as usual and pretend all is well – or re-think how to make it a success ( or at least a break even )…
    I came from a once famous golf community, opened by Jack Nicklaus, attended by then President Richard Nixon with long time home owner the Jackie Gleason.. Waiters with tuxedos bringing afternoon drinks to the magnificent pool adjacent to the future award winning golf course with a convenient small airport around the corner… Property values were up there until fewer and fewer people could afford the fees and so, with time, less than 20 years – the course closed – the pool was drained and fenced – the grass on the once course was overgrown with weeds and the hundreds of residents who owned homes and townhouses and condos ( Jackie Gleason was long outta there by then)… saw their property values fall… Yours truly suggested to the Dade County commission that the county buy the course – which the county did – however taxing only those who lived in the area yet re-opened as a public course to anyone. Despite the methods of purchase the alternative we were faced with was much worse than preserving open green land – MORE HOUSES, and more HOUSES and MORE HOUSES which would have overcrowded our schools, roads, medical facilities, supermarkets and of course de-valued our homes.
    Thankfully, almost 30 years after the decision was made to keep the course going the county has changed hands at operating more than once and the homes in the original purchase area receive nice discounts to golf and to the lovely pool and gym which Dade County (eventually) built next to the course.
    In going back to what was my home from 1984 to 2002 I still smile at how Country Club property values and thus TAX REVENUE to (Miami)-Dade County has paid off in the long run from the alternative of concrete winning over ‘green’… Palm Harbor residents should ban together and demand changes to market the golf course to be beneficial to other than just golfers and the tennis center … the last home I sold in Palm Coast was happy to be close to the tennis center… Amenities perhaps were a luxury many years ago but in today’s world they are needed to maintain property value and a healthy quality of life and must be affordable to everyone – that is the key

  31. economic says:

    Let’s face it, your property values aren’t that much anyway, it’s Florida people, you know, the place where people with little money move to feel like they have more. You live in one of the cheapest states. Just deal with the fact that where you live isnt some fancey rich peolple world. You chose a the dirty south so deal with it. I believe the children are our future , it shouldn’t matter if you have kids or not. The education of today’s children directly reflects all of our future.

  32. Flagler Resident says:

    Layla says: the European Village. It is a wonderful place but is reduced to section 8 housing and bankruptcy.

    Excuse me….. I live at European Village as do many many other people. And I don’t know anyone here that is living in section 8 housing. I pay with my hard earned money the same as you do.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the cost of upgrading the golf course should not be included in the loss total because it is similar to the cost of opening any City amenity. (such as parks, trails, etc) I don’t see how this venture is not breaking even, the Golf bubble has burst but golf isn’t dying and Tennis is…well it is Tennis. Pierre’s golf game must be as bad as some of his political views. Anyway I do support figuring out why a busy golf course isn’t profitable.

    BTW – I don’t think planned parenthood is profitable (despite their efforts) so should that expense be eliminated?

  34. Woody says:

    Kemper Sports should pick-up the difference in funding,or $10,000-15,000 in annual membership fees.Maybe a better idea is replace the golf coarses and tennis complex with multiple satellite city halls.Lets vote,oh thats right that doen”t work either.

  35. layla says:

    Flagler resident: There are units at European Village which have been turned into Section 8 housing. There are homes in the middle of neighborhoods here that have become Section 8 housing.

  36. PCer says:

    Don’t forget Veteran that it will be the graduates of Flagler County schools that will be wiping your butt when you are too old and frail to do it for them. It will be the dropouts that break into your house and steal all your worthless crap. I would recommend that you give them the best education you can.

  37. Veteran says:

    Golf courses use reclaimed water. This is for you Parks and rec since you obviously don’t know much about how golf courses are run.

  38. Howard Duley says:

    Nice article Pierrre. Sadly government at any level doesn’t give a dam about the governed. Case in point is the new city hall. No matter what the excuse the vast vast vast majority said no. As far as the golf course goes government doesn’t understand when expenses exceed income that is called a loss. If I had a private bussiness I would love to operate at a lose forever with the city picking up the loses.

  39. parks n rec says:

    Vet they are using reclaim water to keep grass green and alive on a golf course that is dying and losing lots of money. Couldn’t that non potable water be better used for something else?

  40. tulip says:

    Why can’t palm coast simply fire Kemper and put out bids to other companies. Also, when the pros aren’t doing their job correctly or not there when they should be, then fire them. I bet there may even be some retirees here who are great golfers and might be willing to teach some people how to play the game and even some helpful hints in exchange for some free rounds of golf.

    Keeps the seniors active and involved and get satisfaction of teaching something to someone.

  41. snapperhead says:

    I think a fair assessment of the golf course expense would at least factor in some positive economic benefits of having the course open. Wages for local employees, spending at local establishments, increased property values in the area, value of the land if it were to be sold.. etc.etc…Not that i’m a fan of subsidizing the course but there has to be some economic benefits to having it open.

  42. rst says:

    You deserve EXACTLY what you vote for (for the most part: uneducated, untrained, poorly equipped individuals).

  43. David B says:

    I believe Palm Coast has moved beyond the golf and tennis, as has a lot of communities. Today’s generation does not have the time to spend 4 to 5 hours away from their family. Palm Coast should start developing more recreation and exercise amenities for families to participate to stay active and concern about health and fitness, and less expensive.

  44. cfc says:

    Keep voting for the same people and you will get the same result! Vote incumbents out and vote for those who see a problem with Jim Landon who is filling his pockets making more than the governor at our expense. We need representation who will spend our tax dollars wisely. It will take generations for the debt created by city council and the board of county commissioners to be paid back. This is unacceptable, and is proof we have representation that is not working in our best interest.

  45. Will says:

    Did it ever occur to you unhappy people that just maybe the Council that is there are there because the majority of Residents are happy with the way the City is run. The City tax rate is lower than most similar sized cities in Florida, and certainly lower than the cities where you probably came from. The City’s debt, unlike most cities, is virtually zero. (Except for the Water Utility which is user funded and in no way affects your City tax rate).

  46. just me says:

    Im glad that Golf course was taken over by the City. It was an eye sore for way to long. It is or should be looked at like any other part of our park system. If one wants to use a park at times there are some charges for renting the space or use of it. I see no reason that those who loo to play golf in our city course should not pay something for its use. I believe the problem is that it is not run by the city parks department. Its a park and like all other parks it does not need to make money. Perhaps some hybrid could be worked out where a NICE restaurant and proshop would rent out that space and in return pay the city for its space and a portion of the golf fees. The city would only need to take care of the grounds?? its not uncommon for municipality’s to have a golf course as part of its park system

  47. Carl says:

    Palm Coast is dressing up the pig. Nice exits and entrances off of I-95 but no where to go and nothing to do. I do see both sides of the story. Most people came here to retire and make their dollars stretch as far as possible. A few neighborhoods are very upscale and really those people respresent a very small percentage of the population. To the masses. You got what you came for. cheap living and a low tax base. However, we need to attract new people to the area and we have to compete against all the other areas in Florida. Golf could do that. We have a great movie theater, a great Target, and thats it. If we do not offer more incentives for people to get off of the interstate and buy our houses, then the population, that is getting much older, will just disappear.

    Golf is alive and well. Sure there are too many courses across the US but people here do not play golf and Tennis…..forget about it. It drives no revenue.

  48. Markingthedays says:

    Layla, do you even know why the Matanzas Woods Golf Course closed? Or how hard the city has fought to allow only a golf course developer to buy the land?

  49. Resident says:

    Here we are again – what about Matanza – what about hiring a local who may enjoy the golf club experience, how about lights, sidewalks, how about getting rid of “Big Jim” and finding the money – how about communicating with the people who pay taxes ….. so many reasons for the Citizens to be involved and so little involvement …. Come on Palm Coast – revolt!

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