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Club serves public purpose

Re: Country club deal needs closer scrutiny, editorial | Nov. 29

Ill-informed, erroneous, irresponsible!

Facts: Donald Ross golf course built in 1926 with private funds. Acquired in 1933 by Dunedin without a single taxpayer penny. Maintained (literally) by citizens during the Depression. From 1945 to 1962, leased for $1 per year to the Professional Golfing Association.

1962: Citizen volunteers (also known as Dunedin Country Club) were designated by the City Commission as stewards of this prized community attraction.

During nearly 45 years of stewardship, club members have invested $21-million (including $1.689-million in rent to the city) of their own funds to maintain and operate the semipublic golf course (nonmember residents play at a 20 percent discount).

Thousands of new homes have been built, and the population has increased from 8,400 to 37,000, with a commensurate increase in the tax base.

The club owns 7 acres, the clubhouse (built in 1997 at a cost of $1.375-million, used by 40 community service organizations) and the pro shop and pays taxes thereon.

The current golf course lease extends to Aug. 31, 2022.

Of all city-owned recreational properties, it is the only one not acquired through taxpayer dollars, the only one not subsidized by taxpayer funds, and the only one that generates net revenues for the city.

City Attorney John Hubbard should recuse himself from this matter or confine himself to legal counsel, not business negotiation based on personal opinion.

The Dunedin City Commission should focus on continued operation of this world-famous Donald Ross golf course with the attendant benefits to the community of its green space. Additional scrutiny is needed to ensure that all of the facts are on the table. The club deserves every consideration for the public purpose it has performed during the past nearly 45 years.

F.L. Gus Cooper, Dunedin

Re: Country club deal needs closer scrutiny, editorial | Nov. 29.

Club's benefits unrecognized

Aside from numerous factual errors, this editorial makes three major blunders.

First, the city controls the 135-acre green space through provisions of the lease, and club members invest their own funds ($21-million since 1962) to maintain and operate the golf course for the benefit of residents. The golf course attracts thousands of tourists annually, and they spend money for lodging, dining and casual purchases from Dunedin businesses. Nonmember residents play on the golf course at a 20 percent discount. The club makes the golf course available for fundraising tournaments supporting community causes.

Should the club ever cease to meet provisions of the lease, the city "confiscates" the entire property with no recompense to the club.

The second major blunder is the failure to recognize demographic changes throughout the area. Dunedin no longer offers housing inventory that attracts new residents who are prospective golf club members, and some 15 golf courses have been built in recent years in nearby residential developments.

Finally, because the situation is so delicate and the competition so intense, it is irresponsible for the St. Petersburg Times to intrude, without any constructive suggestion, while we strive to resolve the challenge for the overall benefit of the community.

Herb Norbom, president, Dunedin Country Club

Re: Older parks must be maintained, letter | Dec. 4.

Residents must help with parks

After reading the letter writer's concern about older parks not being maintained because of the new parks being opened, my first thought was that we who live in Clearwater and use the parks should step up to the plate and be responsible users.

These parks are ours. Citizens should not think that the city is our maid; the city is our partner.

(1) Don't toss your cigarette butts, snack wrappers, diapers and bottles. (2) Pick up some of the trash and discard it properly. Set an example for others.

Elizabeth France, Clearwater

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