Once again, the future of the Bayshore par-3 municipal golf course is up for debate.
Miami Beach commissioners on Wednesday voted to schedule a public hearing at their next meeting, on April 23, to discuss possible changes to the course.
Bounded by 28th Street on the north, Miami Beach Senior High on the south, Prairie Avenue on the west and Pine Tree Drive on the east, the 20-acre course has been the subject of two lawsuits against the city. Both were settled.
Most recently, the commission in January approved a $4 million contract for course improvements that have been years in the making. But the city’s new Parks and Recreational Facilities Advisory Board recently asked the commission to reconsider the project. Board members want land for a planned putting green to instead be given to the adjacent Scott Rakow Youth Center.
The youth center already received a chunk of the golf course in a controversial move in 2007.
Youth center advocates deride the small space as more suitable for animals.
“The caged-in area they were given is about the size of a dog run and unsuitable for most outdoor activities, including kickball, relay races, softball,” Jonathan H. Groff, chair of the Parks and Recreational Facilities Advisory Board, wrote in a recent letter to city officials.
On the other hand, residents sued, in part, over the land given to the youth center. The main claim of the second lawsuit, however, was that the city had violated a settlement agreement from an earlier lawsuit by not making improvements to the course fast enough. The 1992 lawsuit was filed over a land swap that eventually allowed a mikvah, a Jewish ritual bath, to be built on one-quarter acre of the golf course.
Commissioner Ed Tobin wants to go beyond just ceding the putting green to the youth center. Instead, he said, the entire course should be turned into a passive park that more people could use.
The course, he said, has “never really been used a lot.”
“I thought that spending a couple million dollars to rehab the par 3, considering we have two golf courses in the city already, I thought was an improvident expenditure of money,” Tobin said at a commission meeting on Wednesday.
Commissioner Jonah Wolfson said the course will require city subsidies and cost $500,000 a year to maintain.
“Perhaps the right thing to do is to go in the direction that everyone can use the park and we don’t have a hole in our budget,” Wolfson said.
Other commissioners were reluctant. Commissioner Deede Weithorn said a passive park could become a hangout for truants. And Commissioner Joy Malakoff said an improved golf course would be used more often.
Under the terms of the settlement agreements involving the course, City Attorney Jose Smith said turning the area into a passive park would require a 5/7 vote of the city commission. To install more active uses of the park, such as fields for athletic leagues, would require a unanimous vote, Smith said.
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