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Dunedin Country Club deal not bad for city

Re: Dunedin golf course needs better operator, editorial | Nov. 15

Dunedin club not a bad deal for city

I will attempt to correct the inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the editorial related to Dunedin Country Club and St. Andrews Links. Yes, the two courses have lost money in recent years; however, St. Andrews Links lost taxpayer money. Not one dime of taxpayer money was lost at Dunedin Country Club. Yes, the proposed license agreement gives Dunedin Country Club a break on paying rent to the city for the next five years; however, it requires the club to reinvest what would have been paid in rent into the city's golf course facility to the benefit of all who use it.

The statement the club would only be required to pay rent if net income exceeded $40,000 per year after year five of the agreement is false. The agreement states the City Commission will determine how much is paid to the city in years six through 20 of the agreement and the club's net income is one of four items the commission will take into consideration when making that determination. The agreement goes one step further and insures Dunedin residents in the event the club's revenues grow substantially. If that happens, the club will pay a percentage of revenues to the city above and beyond any required license payments.

And, in fairness, you should let your readers know the "small sliver of land" the city may purchase for $250,000 is more than 3 acres and the purchase will help alleviate flooding in the residential neighborhoods near the golf course facility.

The suggestion that a third-party, for-profit operator is a better option for the citizens of Dunedin is short-sighted. The proposal submitted to the city by that third party offers to put $22,854 into the city's general fund in the first year of operation if revenues exceed a certain amount. Dunedin Country Club contributed more than four times that amount, an average of over $90,000, to the city's general fund in each of the last two years regardless of revenue amounts.

Further, the third-party operator estimates it will invest $1.6 million in the golf course over the next 20 years. Dunedin Country Club estimates, which are more conservative than the third party's, show we will invest $3 million more over that same period. Further, per the terms of the proposed license agreement, Dunedin Country Club will invest more in the city's golf course property in 19 of the 20 years of the agreement. Our overall investment, including contributions to the city's general fund, is projected to be $6.4 million vs. only $3.9 million for the third party.

The suggestion that the City Commission should reject the proposed agreement and wait to see if the club fails is irresponsible. The current commission takes its fiduciary duty to properly oversee the public's property and the city treasury very seriously. The terms of the proposed agreement support that duty. Most important, they provide for professional management, increased city oversight and reinvestment in the city's golf facility.

The proposed agreement is better for the citizens of Dunedin and for the golf course property that will become Dunedin Golf Club, where the golfing public continues to be welcome. (Call (727) 733-7836 for tee times).

Jane Baird, treasurer, Dunedin Country Club

Re: Dunedin golf course needs better operator, editorial | Nov. 15

One-sided story contains few facts

How shocked and disappointed I have been in the one-sided reporting of the issues around the city licensing agreement between the city of Dunedin and the Dunedin Country Club. I am not a native of Dunedin but came to this city as hundreds of individuals have because of the Dunedin Country Club.

The last editorial was almost void of truth. "A small sliver of land" — 3 acres which, by one market analysis, is worth at least two-and-a-half times what the city is giving the country club to pay for the city buildings and bridge. The club is willing to cooperate with the land deal as it needs money for the betterment of the course at all times, and club members are always good citizens.

For example, when the city was having difficulty getting rid of excessive reclaimed water and needed help, guess who came to the rescue? Look at the project just finished to prevent flooding along Green Way Street for the citizens living there. There are numerous situations of cooperation for the betterment of Dunedin and its citizens.

The article said some top-flight companies responded. Only one company responded correctly to the request for proposals and fit the vision Dunedin has for its courses.

Regarding the quote, "It simply makes good business sense to have golf course management professionals managing" the course: The city's own golf consultant said Dunedin Country Club should manage and so would numerous golf courses that have gone to management companies. The course is in outstanding condition, the best it has ever been, and adding new members continuously.

I could go on about the one-sided, untrue reporting of this issue but my point has been made. I do not believe in negotiating in the media. Too many individuals get involved that do not even know facts and make a lot of noise about untruths. The club has stayed out of the media but enough is enough. Truth should be allowed to be heard. All the club asks is to be treated with true facts and judged on our true merit.

I write this letter as one member of the Dunedin Country Club and a citizen of Dunedin. I happen to be the president of the club and from my involvement in the agreement for the past two-and-a half years, I do know truths.

Dr. Judith M. Campbell, president, Dunedin Country Club

Traffic signals add to congestion

I have read and reread the Pinellas traffic management mission statement, and item No. 1 is reducing traffic congestion.

The department makes claims about computerized award-winning traffic controls easing congestion, reducing travel times, etc. Someone from this traffic department needs to get out and drive the roads between Largo and Seminole early one Sunday morning when traffic is very low to see how poorly the system actually works.

Congestion seems to be the goal with the current system. Efficient flow could be achieved by allowing the signals on these main roads to work in concert with one another instead of just changing color every time a car pulls up or working off a timer.

Many of the traffic lights at minor intersections should be flashing in the evening and early morning hours (as they were in years past with similar traffic levels) to ease congestion and prevent the constant stopping and starting, which serves no purpose except to let one car pass through an intersection while numerous others sit motionless.

Compounding the problem is a 45 mph speed limit on main roads that could only be accomplished by flying over the congested roads. The result is a start-and-stop drag race between traffic lights.

Driving on West/East Bay Drive, Walsingham/Ulmerton Road or Park Boulevard is so frustrating. Traveling near the speed limit will rarely allow a driver to pass through two traffic signals consecutively. One must travel at ridiculously high speeds to get through two signals in a row. Traffic management's claim of synchronized lights on major roads is indefensible. It just does not happen regardless of time of day or traffic load.

Though I appreciate the safety level that is achieved through all of this slow and non-movement, the levels of road rage, personal inefficiency and poor air quality easily outweigh any possible safety gains. Please address this major issue and help stem the traffic aggravation being experienced by Pinellas residents and visitors.

Lee Wilkerson, Indian Rocks Beach

Dunedin Country Club deal not bad for city 11/17/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 20, 2009 8:32am]
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