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Posted on: January 23, 2020

Update on Former Sunset Golf Course Property

Update on Sunset Golf Course Property

In response to requests from Hollywood residents to preserve as public open space the property formerly known as the Sunset Golf Course at 2727 Johnson Street, funding to acquire and develop this property into a passive public park with nature trails and other amenities was part of the General Obligation Bond (GOB) approved by voters in a Special Election held March 12, 2019. The 45 acre parcel is privately owned by a Limited Partnership entity called RICHGREENS LP. The City is currently in negotiations with representatives of the property owner to acquire the site. In accordance with the City Charter, the City has obtained official property appraisals, and any purchase agreement will require City Commission approval. The item would also  be discussed as part of a public City Commission meeting.

While operating as a golf course for several decades, the land became contaminated due to the use of herbicides and other chemicals commonly applied to the grass and greens of golf courses. Elevated levels of arsenic are often found on former golf course sites. As part of a Soil Management Pilot Test Program permitted through Broward County and its Environmental Engineering and Permitting Division, water treatment residuals from the lime softening material used during the water filtration process at the Charles W. Fiveash Regional Water Treatment Plant will be blended into the soil on a portion of the site. The use of this material, which is mostly composed of calcium carbonate, is allowed by Florida Department of Environmental Protection as clean fill and as a way to remediate low levels of arsenic found in topsoil. Regulation of this effort is done through Broward County. Through the completion of the approved Pilot Test Plan, it will be determined whether the blending of the calcium carbonate material is sufficiently reducing the arsenic on this site to acceptable levels. If the results show success, then the property owner can seek to expand the blending of clean fill into the soil to remediate the entire site.

Background

1952: 

•    Designed by Red Lawrence of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the Sunset golf course opened.  

2010:  

•    The Sunset Golf Course was closed and eventually marketed for sale as a residential development opportunity. 

2013: 

•    A developer acquired the land with the intention of building a residential community on the property, however, the project did not move forward through the entitlement process. 

2015:  

•    In February, the Friends of Hollywood Florida, Inc., a group of concerned residents, submitted a report to the Hollywood City Commission, along with a request for the Commission to acquire the Sunset Golf Course property to be used as open green space and allow it to serve as a public utility for stormwater retention. The importance of the Sunset property as a public utility was detailed within their proposal. The proposal also suggested that the City Commission pursue eminent domain to acquire the property.

•    The City of Hollywood reviewed the Friends of Hollywood’s proposal related to flooding and stormwater retention. The property is among the lowest land areas in the vicinity and includes drainage ditches/canals within easements dedicated to the City of Hollywood. The ditches direct stormwater runoff from the adjacent neighborhood roadways and from the property itself to a stormwater pump station located on the northwest corner of the property. The pump station draws water from the drainage ditches and discharges it to an adjacent finger canal outside of the property boundary that leads into the C-10 canal. 

•    The City determined that irrespective of property ownership, drainage benefits can be maintained since the appropriate mitigation efforts on the property will always be mandatory. All development requires compliance with applicable codes and proper design to ensure the least amount of impact to the floodplain and neighborhood drainage.  As part of the entitlement process for any development proposed on the site, Broward County’s Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department, Environmental Engineering and Permitting Division reviews existing site conditions against the proposed development in order to measure the quantity of stormwater runoff.  At minimum, post-development standards require runoff to be less than or equal to pre-development conditions. Furthermore, with this specific property, the City will maintain existing drainage easements and conveyances to the City’s stormwater pump station.  

      2016: 

•    In March, Richgreens LP, led by Mr. Richmond Italia, purchased the land for $2,000,000 and later brought out the leasehold interest and building from an entity known as the Sunset Club Lease.  Richgreens LP envisioned the land being developed into a “sports park” to include paintball, a skate area and rock climbing, as well as more passive, open areas along the perimeter of the site.

      2017: 

•    When conceptual plans for the “sports park” were submitted, a determination was made that the project would require a zoning change, in addition to the site plan review process.  

     2018: 

•    In response to requests from Hollywood residents to preserve the property as public open space, funding to acquire and develop this property into a passive public park with nature trails and other amenities was included as part of the General Obligation Bond (GOB) initiative, the City agrees to include the acquisition of the property as a General Obligation Bond initiative question for voters.

     2019:    

•    On March 12th, voters approved the GOB initiative, including the acquisition of the property. 

•    The City began negotiations with the property owner to purchase the site. In accordance with the City Charter, an appraisal was done, indicating an as-is valuation of the site of $7.5 million and a conditional offer in this amount was provided to the property owner. Any purchase agreement will require City Commission approval and will be discussed as part of a public City Commission meeting.

•    A counter offer of $14.3 million was received by the City for the sale price of the property. An appraisal performed for the property owner is provided with a valuation of $18.5 million assuming that a Site Plan permitting residential development is in place on the property and that the site may be developed with up to 344 total units. 

•    In August, as a result of a Stipulated Agreement with Broward County and its Environmental Engineering and Permitting Division, a Soil Management Pilot Test Program permit was approved for the property.  While operating as a golf course for several decades, the land became contaminated due to the use of herbicides and other chemicals commonly applied to the grass and greens of golf courses. Elevated levels of arsenic are often found on sites of former golf courses.  

•    The Pilot Test Program enabled the use of water treatment residuals from the lime softening material used in the water filtration process at the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Charles W. Fiveash Regional Water Treatment Plant to be blended into the soil on a portion of the site. The use of this material, which is mostly composed of calcium carbonate, is allowed by Florida Department of Environmental Protection as clean fill and as a way to remediate low levels of arsenic found in topsoil. Regulation of this effort is done through Broward County. Through the completion of the approved Pilot Test Plan (EAR License #1293), it will be determined whether the blending of the calcium carbonate material is sufficiently reducing the arsenic on this site to acceptable levels. If the results show success, then the property owner can seek to expand the blending of clean fill into the soil to remediate the entire site.

•    An estimate $4,097,000 for the site work is provided to the City, indicating 210,000 Cubic Yards of clean fill will be blended into the top 18” of the existing grade.  

•    In order to address concerns of residents regarding potential hazards associated with the material being utilized for mitigation, an independent Engineering Firm, Hazen and Sawyer was brought in to assess the operation. Hazen and Sawyer noted that it is a common industry practice to use water treatment plant lime sludge for agricultural use, soil enhancement, or remediation. In general, the State of Florida has determined land application of lime residuals from drinking water systems is not a threat to the public health or the environment.  

•    Hazen and Sawyer concluded that the analytical results for the Pilot Test Plan at the former Sunset Golf Course property confirm that the materials being used are non-hazardous and are safe for land application. Although incidental runoff would not normally be expected to significantly impact a waterway, the December 22nd incident indicated that preventative measures should be improved immediately as a best practice.  

•    While the City does not have a regulatory role over the remediation, the methodology, nor the materials used, the City notified the property owner of an immediate need to shore up the barrier for other possible future weather events and to aerate the finger canal, which had been discolored due to the flow on material from the site. This request was shared with the Broward County’s Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department, Environmental Engineering and Permitting Division and the South Florida Water Management District. 

      2020:    

•    The City provides a conditional second offer of $9 million to the property along with an adjusted as-is appraisal that includes the site work being undertaken on the site.  Any purchase agreement will require a super majority vote of the City Commission and will be discussed as part of a public meeting.

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