Submitted by Mitchell Kobernick
There was an article published in the Tampa Bay Times on May 28 discussing the status of the golf course litigation, which is shown below. In the article, the author refers to Diane stating that “…she started the lawsuit fearing the assessment would turn into an open-ended checkbook for the county to tap for remediation.” He also quoted Art saying that “There’s a lot of people out here who want the park.” I agree with both of those positions, and they are not mutually exclusive.
The problem is that some people have characterized Diane’s lawsuit as a case of being opposed to those who want the park. That is not true. The lawsuit is all about not letting the county tax Gulf Harbors owners against their will, and not telling those owners all they should be entitled to know about what they are getting into. The first MSBU the county passed in 2016, and which prompted the lawsuit, contained absolutely no protections against the county charging Gulf Harbors for all costs involved in operating and improving the golf course land, which included any remediation costs. Even the new MSBU the county tried to pass last month, which they withdrew, still did not specify that any necessary remediation would in fact be completed prior to the purchase. This is a very serious omission, particularly in light of the fact that 3 years after the county signed the purchase agreement for the golf course, the environmental testing is STILL not completed. So after 3 years, we still don’t know what the cost of remediation might be, and despite the county saying that the seller will pay for the remediation, that is not what the documents say. If you want to see what the documents REALLY say, read the post on this Golf Course page titled “New MSBU Deceives Public”.
Speaking for myself, I would like to see a park for the community, but there have to be safeguards to protect the community as well. The deal that was originally proposed, and even the new MSBU they tried to pass, provided no safeguards. The county could decide what improvements were to be made, and all Gulf Harbors would have to pay for it. There was no requirement for the community to have a say in that. Sure there would be an advisory committee, but they are appointed by the COUNTY, and the county commissioners still reserved the right to make the final decision, regardless of the input from that advisory committee. The community has to have a say, and that is no more apparent than taking into account the concerns of those that live around the golf course. Diane held meetings specifically with those homeowners, and received a lot of input as to their particular concerns. These need to be respected, as they will be the ones most affected by what the county does with that land. So while it sounds great to say that a park would be good for the community, a statement I don’t disagree with, just blindly letting the county do what it wants with us footing the bill is not the right way to go about it. Have we learned nothing from FGUA!Tampa-Bay-Times-May-28-2019