By Dale Martin
October 16, 2020
Continuing last week’s discussion of updating the community of current projects and efforts, I’ll turn my attention to the City’s three most visible enterprise funds: the Marina, the Golf Course, and the Airport.
With the Marina, the State recommendation regarding the City’s appeal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is expected to be provided this week. The State Department of Emergency Management will submit its recommendation to FEMA officials, who have ninety days to respond to the appeal. Again, thank you to Congressman John Rutherford and his staff for continuing support for this effort.
The principal work at the Marina has been completed: the attenuator, both south and north) has been installed, the southern basin dredged, and the interior docks realigned. Some “punch list” items remain, however, to be completed, mainly addressing some sporadic electrical issues and attending to cosmetic issues on the pilings. The fuel system continues to be evaluated and tested before being able to return to service. At this time, this issue is the top priority of the Marina effort.
Discussions with Oasis Marinas officials have nearly completed a draft operating agreement to manage the Marina. The proposed agreement will be provided to the Marina Advisory Board for review at the end of this month before being formally considered by the City Commission on November 4 (please note the November 4 date: due to Election Day activities on Tuesday, November 3, the City Commission meeting is moved to Wednesday, November 4). Oasis officials have also been consulted for assistance with the fuel system challenges.
Finally, the City is preparing to move forward with the installation of several mooring balls. This project is in the final design and permitting stages, with the project (funded in part through a grant from the Florida Inland Navigation District, FIND) slated to be published for bids soon.
At the Golf Course, the reconstruction of several North Course greens is nearly completed. The greens on the North Course, what was the original course, had never been re-built since first constructed over sixty years ago (the West and South Course greens have been reconstructed).
The re-grading of the driving range and practice area has been completed. The re-grading will provide for the construction of the expanded practice area (putting green and bunker) and alleviate driving range drainage issues.
The driving range project is closely associated with the Toptracer project. Toptracer is a rapidly growing component of modern golf, making significant use of computers and simulators to enhance the playability at the driving range. The City awarded the bid to construct the Toptracer facility to Johnson Home Builders, and, with the necessary permits issued, construction will begin shortly. If the schedule is maintained, the Toptracer facility should be opened and available for use by the end of the calendar year.
As with the Marina (as well as the Airport), the City has had traditional and lengthy relationships with management and engineering consultants to provide additional assistance. The City currently has a management agreement at the Golf Course with Billy Casper Golf (BCG), a national golf course management consultant and advisor. The agreement between the City and BCG (to be re-branded as Antares) expires at the end of this year. The City recently examined the consultant relationships at the Airport and the Marina, and I anticipate a similar examination at the Golf Course, with an emphasis on operations and finances (especially given the current debt associated with the Golf Course). City staff will likely make a recommendation to the City Commission next month.
The Airport continues to thrive: it is the only of the three operations discussed in this article that requires no property tax support from City residents. The Fixed Base Operator (FBO) and City staff operate from the terminal building. The terminal building conference room hosts several local meetings (although greatly limited due to pandemic restrictions, the allowable capacity is gradually increasing).
The Airport’s primary runway is being resurfaced- a $2.4 million project funded entirely through federal and state grants. The fuel farm is being improved (construction slightly delayed due to the pandemic). Competitive proposals for an underused bulk hangar are being solicited. Additional T-hangars are being designed and prepared for construction to meet the growing demand: the waiting list for hangars is over seventy and adds more each week. An aviation museum is considering constructing a facility at the Airport (although the location of the possible site is apparently being discussed on social media, the potential site has yet to be determined). Finally, design efforts continue for the construction of the new fire station to be located at the Airport, with construction planned to start in approximately one year.
The City continues to support the efforts and use of the Marina, the Golf Course, and the Airport. Those assets, although markedly different, contribute greatly to the appeal and successful of our community. If you haven’t visited those facilities recently, I encourage you to take the time and see what is happening firsthand.
Finally, I’d like to thank Ms. Peg Davis for her service as the editor of the NewsLeader. She has provided me the forum to share these thoughts with you for five years. I have enjoyed, and will very much miss, our (too infrequent) off-the-record lunches during which we shared our differences, our frustrations, and our hopes for our community. Best wishes to you, Peg.