More than a decade ago, vitriol from outraged residents who lived along the Colony West Golf Course forced Tamarac City Hall to make a promise.
The city would save the golf course from developers, spending $3 million on the land deal in 2011, and nearly $2 million in the first year of operation alone on golf-related upgrades, to buy it to make that happen.
“Let’s remember why the city purchased Colony West: It was a critical decision to preserve green space for the 18 communities that surround the courses and for the city as a whole,” a city spokeswoman said in 2014, a year after the course opened new to the public under city control.
That may not remain the case. On July 12, the City Commission will be asked to vote on spending $92,000 on two separate studies:
- One study, at $12,500, would look at options to turn the 77-acre Glades course at Colony West into something else: likely new housing, surrounded by entertainment such as a putt-putt, retail shops or restaurants, or a mix of all those options. Under the city’s current plan, the championship course at Colony West would remain untouched.
- The other study, at a cost of $79,500, would look at the feasibility to bulldoze City Hall and the Sheriff’s Office substation on its 15-acre campus on Pine Island Road. In its place could become new housing, retail, and restaurants.
City Hall and the substation would be built new on 27 acres of city-owned land on the west side of Nob Hill Road, 6601 Nob Hill Road, between Commercial Boulevard and McNab Road, where some city buildings are already located.
The community center on Commercial Boulevard could also be torn down and rebuilt on the new “Government Center Campus” farther west, on Nob Hill Road. That site also could have new retail and housing and help fund the new complex. Because of the current location it is “prime property,” Community Development Director Maxine Calloway told city commissioners.
City Manager Levent Sucuoglu told commissioners at a recent meeting it was an opportunity to turn the area “into a center of attraction.”
“We believe the opportunities are endless,” Calloway told city leaders.
Mayor Michelle Gomez said she endorsed a plan to create “nighttime fun” since “we do want to be a little more family friendly and know that we don’t go to bed at 7.”
Commissioner Elvin Villalobos said the golf course was ready for a change and called it a “wasteland.” “It’s just terrible,” he said. “The whole course just sucks.”
Commissioner Morey Wright Jr. wasn’t as sure: “There are people playing every day. So it doesn’t seem like it’s an old, dilapidated golf course at all.”
This week Gomez defended the decision to have a study to see what is possible for the golf course.
The city’s purchase “was to preserve the land, definitely, but as far as nothing being put on it, I’m not 100% sure that was the intent. The city wanted control of it, that was the primary intent.”
She also said the current City Hall “is rusting. If you come in and look up, you will see bits and pieces … where leaks have been.”
Vice Mayor Marlon Bolton was the sole vote against bringing the two studies up at the July 12 meeting for a vote, saying he wouldn’t approve the development. He said residents have spoken out against more development.
“Our administration is taking advantage our new commissioners who do not understand the history of how the deal to buy the golf course came about,” he said. “We need to look at the history and hold ourselves accountable to what was promised back then. The need for improved air quality, the need for open green spaces has not changed. And so we need to take a step back and really make sure the residents continue to get what they asked for. It’s all about integrity.”
The Glades course at Colony West, also known as the executive course, was once proposed to become hundreds of townhomes, two-story condos and commercial space.
The issue came to a head in 2010. Pressured by hundreds of residents, city commissioners unanimously turned it down.
The Glades course, south of McNab Road between Pine Island and Nob Hill roads, abuts several developments including Spyglass, Westwood II, and Plum Bay and Plum Harbor.
Bridget Argueta, now lives in Woodmont, another section of Tamarac, but lived in Plum Bay in 2010 and fought the development at the time.
“We thought they were never going to develop it, we thought we were the homes that would appreciate properly,” she said.
Luis Hernandez, who has lived in Plum Bay since 1994, said the residents already fought this fight.
“What is it going to do to my property value, my value is going to go down,” he said. “I don’t like it, it’s going to take everybody’s view.
“I don’t think it’s right for them to be changing their mind like that.”
Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter@LisaHuriash