By Brian Boggiano
In front of a room full of Heron Bay residents and an audience that stretched outside the city commission rooms, the Parkland City Commission held their final vote on the purchase of 65 acres of the former Heron Bay golf course.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the city committee voted four to one to purchase land from the Northern Springs Improvement District, drawing thunderous applause and thunderous applause from residents.
On first reading on August 29, the committee approved the contract 3-2.
On second reading, the committee needed at least four votes – or an overwhelming majority – to approve the land purchase contract.
“possession [the land] “Controlling it gives us all that ability to preserve all the properties we love in Parkland,” Mayor Rich Walker said.
As part of the contract, Parkland will purchase the land for $25.410.000. There will be a 90-day due diligence period in which the city can undo the deal.
By Monday, the city must pay a $250,000 deposit. This will be refundable during the 90-day investigation period.
NSID purchased the former 223-acre golf course from Clublink in 2019 for $32 million. that they It plans to use about 150 acres for rainwater trap and green space. That green space will include a nature preserve, 5 miles of 10-foot-wide pedestrian and bike trails, and five water stations.
Green space plans also include memorializing the shooting victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Of the approximately 73 acres of land remaining, the city plans to use about 65 acres for commercial and residential development.
About eight acres of parcels are excluding, including the section west of Nob Hill Road on the north end of the course, about 164,000 square feet of land west of the Marriott, and a narrow strip of property east of Heron Estates and Old Brook.
NSID has sought to sell the land to several developers, including Toll Brothers, Falcone and East Coast, each with their own plans for how the land will be used.
At the September 14 meeting, the NSID chose to sell the former Heron Bay golf course to the East Coast unless Parkland agreed to purchase the land by September 24.
On Wednesday, 18 residents spoke out in favor of Parkland’s purchase of land from the NSID, and only one person opposed it.
Residents who supported the Parkland purchase of the property explained that maintaining Parkland’s character, controlling traffic, and maintaining a vision for Parkland’s future are all vital.
Despite the high price, Richard Deutsch said preventing overcrowding and over-development is key to preserving Parkland’s environment.
“What trumps money and taxes,” he said, “is the quality of life.”
Others, such as Eliot Rothberg, stated that the East Coast would not develop in the city’s interest.
“We need a plan that makes sense for Parkland,” he said.
Several residents also appealed to Deputy Mayor Ken Cutler and Commissioner Bob Myerson, who voted against the land acquisition at the August 29 meeting.
“One of you needs to catch the ball and score” Zero said Deborah. ““I beg you to catch that ball because we need you.”
During their discussion, Commissioner Simeon Brier spoke about the NSID’s vote on Wednesday, noting that the past week had put the committee into a whirlwind that backed them into a corner.
For Brier, his vote was about preserving the charm and nature of Parkland and staying a city where people could live and raise a family, just like him. By not spending nearly $25 million to purchase the land in the short term, Breyer feared the long-term effects of the city’s limited land control.
“My goal is as simple as it gets: Don’t mess around in Parkland,” he said.
Commissioner Jordan Isro echoed much of Breyer’s sentiments, adding that the vast majority of emails he’s received and residents he’s heard from support the purchase of the land. Isro said that while the city would keep more than $25 million by not buying the land, it would miss out on a significant opportunity to shape its future and satisfy residents.
“If we don’t get through tonight,” he said, “what worries me is…that this is forever out of control in this city.” “We have the opportunity to either make history or become history.”
While Isrow, Walker and Brier maintained their support, Mayersohn and Cutler stated that voting on the item was difficult.
Myerson stood firm in his reasoning, noting that the city did not need to agree to the contract to control what was going on at the former Heron Bay golf course.
The city can still provide strict conditions for any developer interested in the land.
“I just can’t support this,” he said, “and that’s where I’m at.”
Cutler was originally divided on the issue.
He explained that spending $25.4 million on the land would include a large amount of taxes paid by residents. At the same time, the city in the past has used its power extensively on land use and zoning powers, adding that what worked in the past does not work today due to legislation passed at the state level repealing some provisions for self-government.
While he talked to residents extensively about the issue, he also spoke to developers, industry experts, and other personalities from out of town, which helped him make his final decision.
“We need to control our own destiny,” Cutler said.
Cutler became the fourth required vote, which immediately elicited a flurry of applause and warm applause from packed committee rooms.
He warned that the price of controlling the city’s fate would include issues such as the school’s boundaries and what ultimately happens on the site.
Isrow submitted the proposal for approval. Breyer was assigned.
The committee voted 4-1 in favor of purchasing the land. Viewer Myerson.
After the approval, City Manager Nancy Morando said she will coordinate the second phase of an environmental study for the former Heron Bay golf course.
The city will also conduct a land survey at the cost of the $86,650 required by Parkland.
Morando also said she needed the Heron Bay Community Association’s approval to lift the restrictive covenant on property, but she was optimistic about progress on Wednesday.
“I am excited about this new adventure ahead of us, and I know we are going to do an excellent job,” Morando said.
Walker said he is looking forward to the next chapter in Parkland’s history.
“I am excited about our vote this evening to purchase 65 acres of Heron Bay,” he said. “This is a huge victory for the entire city of Parkland.”
Brian, a journalism graduate from the University of Florida, plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master’s degree. He has a keen interest in weather, entertainment and journalism.