Homeowners upset at plan to convert golf course into homes

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SARASOTA COUNTY - Realtors say it's another sign of the housing market making a comeback -- but not everyone is pleased about plans to close one of the oldest public golf courses in the area.

The Sarasota Golf Club on Palmer Road, east of Interstate 75 is shutting down next week, with plans to turn the golf course into new homes. Realtors are pleased, but others are concerned. And it's not just golfers who are teed off.

The course has been there 53 years, but realtors say projects like this are a positive sign about the direction of the area's economy. “The pendulum seems to have swung several months ago. All this year, we've been reporting sales higher than previous,” says Kathy Roberts of the Sarasota Association of Realtors.

The concept of closing a golf course to build houses isn't new in Sarasota; it happened at Forest Lakes along Beneva Road in Sarasota -- and those houses still haven't been built.

“That's why I bought this condo in the first place, it was next to a golf course,” says Forest Lakes resident Rick Cavanaugh. His place was next to a golf course, but now he lives next to a lot of high grass.

Back at the Sarasota Golf Club, neighbors are aware of what's happened to other golf courses that were closed to make way for houses several years ago; and they hope the same thing doesn't happen there.

“We don't want a Forest Lakes or Sunrise (Golf Club) debacle behind us. We would want a nice community if that's the way it's gonna go,” says Gloria Dehaven, who lives next to Sarasota Golf Club.

New numbers released Tuesday show the positive trend continues in local real estate. But all this comes as bad news for those looking for public golf in Sarasota.