The Wellington Village Council is contemplating buying the Binks Forest golf course, and there seems to be a lot of considerations that are being ignored.
1. The economy is still slow, less people are playing golf and many, many private and municipal courses are closed or are being closed. (Just look at Royal Palm Beach to our north and Boynton Beach the south.)
2. Binks Forest has failed under three separate ownerships already.
3. Should a municipal course compete with the three courses in Wellington already?
4. People say that we have a municipal pool, tennis courts, ball fields and a gym, why not a golf course? The answer to that is simple: 80 to 90 percent of the people who use those facilities are Wellingtonians, and outsiders pay a fee. A municipal golf course would be 80 to 90 percent of outsiders playing here, and we would be subsidizing them.
5. The planned local meetings would not represent all of Wellington, just like the K-Park meetings were representative of the surrounding communities most affected, but leaving out 90 percent of Wellingtonians who would not attend a meeting for a local circumstance.
So, too, would that happen at Binks, just as we (Binks citizens) packed village hall to keep our course years ago, and made a deal to rezone and develop part of the course with townhouses. Now, we are going to revisit it again, whilst I’m sure the monies paid by a developer are long ago spent! How many failures until someone says enough, especially with taxpayer money?
So, $3 million to purchase the course, $750,000 minimum to upgrade it, no property tax income forever, as it leaves the tax rolls under a municipality, and 2 to 3 years operating at a loss is predicted, if not forever.
The next logical question is: what happens if the municipal golf course fails? What is the fallback position?
Are we to have a passive park, and bring people into our back yards and into our gated communities instead?
Will this bring crime, burglaries and drug sales, as police could not easily negotiate the course at night to address these potential issues as larger parks so often have?
Personally, my recommendation would be to have staff (not a paid advisor) look into golf courses in established areas, see how they are doing, how many are closing or switching to nine-hole courses and get some inside information on these courses, what works and what doesn’t.
Then, in November 2016, during the presidential election, when the most people are voting in Wellington, have a well-thought-out referendum on the subject, perhaps even choices.
When there is much more information, the people are educated on the subject, and a better decision can be made on the future of this course!
George Unger, Wellington