After pushback, Tamarac reverses course to study development on golf land

Tamarac city commissioners backed off a plan Monday to study how they could build on a golf course they once promised to preserve from development.

City leaders were scheduled Wednesday to approve a $12,500 study to review the options to turn the 77-acre Glades course at Colony West into something else: “primarily” new housing, surrounded by entertainment such as a putt-putt course, retail shops or restaurants, or a mix of all those options.

At a workshop Monday, commissioners changed their minds, and said it won’t come up for a vote after all.

In 2010, residents who live near the Colony West course successfully fought plans for development. The city said it would save the golf course from future angst, and spent $3 million to buy it in 2011, and more money in taxpayer dollars for improvements. It opened to the public in 2013.

But in June, the city said it wanted change, including “some kind of an attraction” for “family fun.”

The study would “explore what opportunities might be available there,” Community Development Director Maxine Calloway told city commissioners. “We think (a) mixture (of) low retail, some restaurants, family entertainment uses, but primarily residential.”

Mayor Michelle Gomez agreed housing was a part of the plan:  “I know that we need some residential, residential in smart places … along the course,” she said at the June meeting.

On Monday, the commission decided to drop the plan for a housing, restaurant and retail study entirely. If there will be another study done later, it will focus on “modernizing the golf course as a golf course,” Gomez said.

“The Glades course needs a bit of work,” Gomez said after the discussion item Monday.

There had been a public outcry, according to Vice Mayor Marlon Bolton. He had pushed to stop development in that location before it ever started because of its “history of preservation.”

“It’s a no go,” he said of the proposal. “We promised to preserve the golf course. Residents do not want more residential on that golf course in their backyard. The city has to keep itself accountable to what was said and what was promised.”

Tamarac resident Jennifer Lacey, who lives along the golf course by the first hole, said she was relieved. She had been actively soliciting signatures on a petition since learning about the plan from a South Florida Sun Sentinel story. There were 97 signatures as of Monday afternoon, and residents had also emailed and called elected officials, she said.

Lacey said residents beat the development more than a decade ago and “everyone worked so hard to (have it) stay a green space. Just the thought of them proposing the idea upset a lot of the neighbors.

“I want green space, we live in a city and Tamarac does not really have any green space left. Where are the birds and the squirrels and nature? We just keep piling up more and more apartments,” she said.

And she worries when the commission will bring it up again: “We need to have something in place, written, so that they cannot do this again,” she said.

The plan to drop the golf course study is separate from a second study that is still expected to be approved Wednesday. The $79,500 study 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 come 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, at 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.

Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at lhuriash@sunsentinel. Follow on Twitter @LisaHuriash

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