Letter: Don’t Gamble On Village Green

I oppose the Village Green project because it proposes to replace the serenity and beauty of the Village Golf Club with the noise and skyline of a massive housing development.

Of course, those who stand to financially gain from the plan won’t depict it that way. They’ll say the golf course is in unrecoverable decline, and that, out of their concern for the community, they’ve devised a plan that will transform the problem into a windfall for the village — leave a token nine holes for the golfers while building 450 homes on the remainder, raising surrounding property values and bringing in more tax revenues.

But at a December 2018 Royal Palm Beach Village Council meeting, I heard a packed house of Royal Palm Beach homeowners question whether the golf course really is a lost cause and then passionately reason why the Village Green project would be a grave detriment to the village — thousands more residents shoe-horned into the heart of the village, hundreds more cars to pollute the air and clog thoroughfares, multiple thousands more toilet flushes per day stressing water supplies, and an untold increase in mischief and crime that naturally comes to more dense populations. I see it exactly that way.

Frankly, I don’t know the extent of any ailments the Village Golf Club may have, but, it seems to me that any plan should focus on healing and restoring it, not giving up and killing it. Village planners thoughtfully zoned it as a golf course, presumably to achieve a healthy, attractive and sustainable balance of nature, recreation, business and housing. Dismissing that wisdom and taking a chance with that balance would be reckless. Worse, it would betray homeowners, especially those directly adjacent to the course, who would lose the location value and peaceful setting for which they paid a premium.

The Village Green project scares me, but at that same December council meeting, I saw council members in action for the first time, and I was encouraged by their willingness to interact, their frankness and objectivity, their local knowledge and past experience with similar decisions, and their obvious commitment to doing what’s right for Royal Palm Beach. I understand that they must weigh all factors before deciding what’s best for the community, but I hope their consideration includes a comparison of the motives and risk of those who will live with their decision. Homeowners who’ve bought into the Royal Palm Beach lifestyle and have everything to lose from a gamble gone bad are not at all the same as profiteers who earn their living at being persuasive and who only want to buy into the village long enough to strike a profit before they move on to leverage another community for their gain.

James Burch, Royal Palm Beach