City Commission tables Bobby Jones decision after hours of discussing scaling down renovations

Bobby Jones Special Meeting

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - For months, Sarasota City Commissioners have been trying to decide what to do about the City-owned Bobby Jones Golf Club that’s now costing more money to run than it’s making.

Monday, they held another special meeting in hopes of making a final decision.

After three and a half hours of discussing, the Commission was still unable to pinpoint what the future holds for Bobby Jones.

For now, it sounds like they’re all on the same page about wanting to reduce the 45-hole course in some manner, but they haven’t yet decided if the new Bobby Jones should have 18, 27 or 36 holes.

At this point, even the consultant was getting frustrated. The public opinion on the matter varied. Several said they were in favor of reducing the course to 18 holes, while others pointed out that they’d like to see other uses with the green space besides just golf.

“That space can accommodate a much bigger postulate than just 9 or 18 [holes] and a clubhouse where you can go drink and eat and gather," said Francis Scheuer, a resident of Sarasota.

The Commissioners also discussed the possibility of converting at least part of the course into a conservation easement, which would prohibit development on the land forever and potentially help pay for some of the renovation costs that have to do with preserving the land.

Commissioner Brody has long been ready to move forward with reducing the golf course and adding mixed-use.

“Only nine percent of the rounds played at Bobby Jones are by city residents, but city residents are gonna bear 100 percent of the tax burden to subsidize that course, to the tune of $7 million over the next 10 years," Commissioner Brody explained. "I just don’t think that’s fair for the city taxpayers.”

Some of those taxpayers are more than willing to foot the bill for a piece of beloved Sarasota history, but others have voiced strong opinions that they are not.

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