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I would like to put in my 2 cents’ worth on the proposal for 870 homes on the old Southridge/Sandhill Golf Course in DeLand.

To the City Commission, I say, “Please do not approve this!” 

Look at the “forever” consequences — the best downtown in America will forever have no municipal golf course. 

There is no other land parcel in the area large enough for one. Drive around for yourself, and look for a space where a course could go. You won’t find one.

During the restrictions of last year due to COVID, outdoor activities (especially golf) have kept many active, and provided sanity during a difficult time. Golf is a sport for all ages, colors and backgrounds, and it has flourished during the pandemic.

Every week, dozens of golf groups drive to Daytona Beach, Bunnell, Deltona, Lake County and other Central Florida courses to play.

The city needs to buy the Southridge/Sandhill property and renovate it to the 18-hole course that is underneath its abandoned appearance. 

It will be expensive — I estimate $2 million to $3 million — with the majority of the costs covering a new irrigation system and regrassing. 

The hole contouring is already there, as well as the clubhouse and another separate event venue.

Naysayers believe “You will never get your money back.” That is true, but once it is reopened, it will pay for its annual operating costs through golf fees and rental proceeds.

Also, the City of DeLand has built other projects or done renovations where it did not get its money back. Two, in particular, are Melching Field and Spec Martin Memorial Stadium. Millions have been spent on these venues, and they are awesome, but they were built mainly for Stetson University.

And there is a major difference between these venues and a golf course in DeLand — the golf course can be used by anyone, especially DeLand-area residents. The cost to refurbish the course is far less than building a new one, even if there was another property large enough.

In its heyday, Southridge was the place to go for area civic, business and charitable-organization fundraisers. 

Every year, an estimated $200,000 was generated from golf fundraisers and went to support organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs, prison ministries, food banks, private schools, etc.

There were one or two events every weekend.

In DeLand, we also have some of the state’s premier golf-course architects in Clifton, Ezell and Clifton — longtime DeLand families noted for their work. 

I would really like to see them put their stamp on what is underneath the overgrown and abandoned current site — a beautiful property with gorgeous tall pines and sprawling oaks, not to mention rolling hills.

If you want to do something for the community, leave this legacy, preserve this green space, and make this truly a community-redevelopment project. Have some really long-term vision.

— Born and raised in DeLand, Joiner played sports, graduated, taught and coached at DeLand High School and DeLand Junior High for 31 years, and was a city parks employee for 45-plus years.

 

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