Miami Springs council grants O'Dell his golf "wish list"

The Miami Springs council meeting on Monday night, May 13 was long and arduous as the new members got acclimated to the way business is done in Miami Springs. However, the action that was taken at the golf course was very important.

New director of golf Paul O’Dell presented a “wish” list of expenditures not in the budget that he felt needed to be funded before the new fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. His list included $70,000 for rebuilding the driving range and over $50,000 to improve the turf conditions on the golf course. In total, he was asking council to find almost $165,000 so he can begin the process of bettering the biggest asset of the city.

“We are going after dollars that will not encumber the taxpayers by way of grants but it is time to hit the restart button,” O’Dell said from the podium. “The essence of the moment has to be considered and we have a window now.”

According to O’Dell, the only moneymaking asset at the golf course right now is the driving range, and changing the turf there to something called “Paspalum grass” would be a difference-maker. Additional revenue projections from the newly rebuilt driving range were put at $60,000 and it would in turn attract more play on the golf course.

“I strongly recommend these changes at the driving range and it will save us money in the long term by cutting maintenance costs,” continued O’Dell.  “Nobody in the area has a driving range lit at night and it will give us a product differential.”

O’Dell went on to say that the growing season was now and the other funding requests would help get the golf course ready for the next winter season. As far as this fiscal year is concerned, it was indicated by Finance Director William Alonso that the losses were expected to be in the $350,000 range.

Councilman Jaime Petralanda made the point that the losses would continue to grow if this council did not step up and take action now. He asked about the cost of rebuilding the entire golf course and O’Dell quickly responded with a $6 million figure that would require closing the course for an extended period of time.

“I know that putting lipstick on the pig is just not enough and we have to continue with long-range plans,” said Mayor Zavier Garcia. “But this is something we have to find a way to do right now.”

Alonso and City Manager Ron Gorland affirmed that the only way to fund these requests now was to take the money out of reserves. The two options presented to council were to take the funds from the more than $3 million in hurricane reserves or to take from the $250,000 put aside this year for pool improvements.

City Attorney Jan Seiden also cautioned that this needed to be done on an “emergency, one-time-only basis” so the bidding process could be waived and management could make quick decisions on which vendors to use for the eight individual item requests.

The council voted unanimously to take the funds from the “pool” reserves and gave management the authority to spend up to $164,226 for immediate improvements to the driving range and golf course. 

In other news, the council:

• Proclaimed Monday, May 13, 2013 Daniela Rodriguez Day for the accomplishments of the 13-year-old Blessed Trinity student whose research produced “Steve” the robot to help disabled people use their brainwaves for movement. Daniela won several state and national awards and at the VEX Robotics World Championships she was inducted into their Hall of Fame. 

• Announced the cancellation of the Miami-Dade County Annexation Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 16. The meeting will be rescheduled for sometime in the month of June.