Proposal could give golf course a facelift

Posted on July 4, 2016 by Mat Pellegrino

The City of Gulf Breeze is looking to take a swing at getting public input on a FEMA Alternative Project that could help the city purchase equipment to better maintain Tiger Point Golf Course and other city properties.
The city was slated to receive a little over $500,000 from FEMA due to damages incurred during the April 2014 flood.
When FEMA came in after the flood, they filled out a project worksheet, and one of the items noted on the worksheet was the damage done to the bunkers on the west end of the golf course during the flood.
The city had the option to take the money and rebuild the bunkers on the west end of the golf course, but the deadline to accept the money has run out, so the city is proposing an alternative project that they hope will do more than just rebuild the bunkers on the west end.
The initial amount obligated by FEMA for the bunker project was $533,202.
Instead, the city wants to take an eye at doing an alternative project, which would give them  75 percent of that $533,202 check, or $399,902.
FEMA would still have to approve the proposal before divvying out the $399,902 to the city, and the city will have to host 2 public meetings to get input on the alternative project from the public before submitting their proposal.
An alternative project, that was proposed by the city’s operations consultant Vernon Prather, suggested that the city purchase equipment for the golf course, which could essentially aid the city in rebuilding or better maintaining the west end. The equipment could also be utilized by the city to rebuild the overgrown bunkers, if they feel the need to do so.
“The bunkers were essentially destroyed during the flood back in 2014 and we may have the opportunity to rebuild them. But we also have the opportunity to pursue this alternative money,” said City Manager Edwin “Buz” Eddy.  “We’re going to be past the deadline for accepting that money to rebuild the bunkers because we don’t have any plans to rebuild the west course. Another opportunity for the city is to take this alternative money in lieu of the other money.”
In an email Prather sent to Eddy back in May, the operations consultant suggested pitching their idea of purchasing equipment for the golf course to FEMA to see if the agency will approve the alternative money for the city to pay for the equipment.
“Since FEMA tends to favorably view alternative projects that address the same facility/area that was damaged, we are proposing the purchase of equipment to maintain the west course as well as other city properties,” Prather said in the email.
Back when the city purchased TPGC in 2012, they obtained  “very old tractors” and backhoe loader equipment from the golf course’s bone yard, which they have been utilizing to maintain the entire golf course. But the equipment is showing its age.
“We can use that (alternative money) for equipment we were going to buy anyways over the next few years,” Eddy said.
Prather compiled a list of equipment the city could purchase with the nearly $400,000, if their proposal is approved by FEMA. That list included a 90 horsepower backhoe loader, a 50 horsepower excavator, 2 heavy duty Ford pickup trucks and two 60 horsepower tractors.
“The city could take the money and rebuild the bunkers…or we could say ‘no, we don’t want to,’” Eddy told South Santa Rosa News. “That’s why we’re hosting this public hearing.”
The public hearing is slated for July 5 at 6 p.m. at Gulf Breeze City Hall.
At the meeting, the public can have their say on the alternative project. Meanwhile, the city will be asking for a deadline extension to file the alternative project with FEMA.
“Following the flood, we had the opportunity to apply for this alternate money. And we can apply for money to repair the bunkers. We’re not sure what we are gonna do with the west course right now,” Eddy said.  “We have no plans at the present to rebuild the west course.”
The date for the second public hearing is unknown at this time.
“In order to move forward with the alternative project, the city council needs to hold public hearings and seek input on the proposed alternative project and submit a resolution to FEMA requesting approval,” Prather said.
Eddy said the equipment would be helpful in sprucing up the golf course as a whole and could even be used to make the west end look a little better.
“If we get approved for the alternative project, that equipment is primarily going to be used to maintain the west course area,” Eddy said. “We’re not inclined to repair the bunkers…that’s why we are suggesting this alternative option. If the council does decide to rebuild the west course, they can take that money that was going to be used on equipment and put it towards rebuilding the west course.”