Readers weigh in on three local issues.
The mysterious disappearance of Riverbend Golf Course
Why did only five people in this city —the five City Commissioners — decide that all of the adult voters in Ormond Beach did not need to have a golf course run by anyone in this city? Riverbend Golf Course is a city-owned asset and has been continually leased from the city for 30 years by private parties.
In the first 30 years, the city has collected over $4 million in rent on a course they got for free. In 2009, the FAA advised that golf courses, farmland, conservation areas, etc. might not be the best use of any unused airport land, but not because of what you may think. It wasn’t for “safety” but for economic reasons. Among the reasons given by the FAA were those uses may not yield the most taxes, rent income and may be a political problem down the road if the airport wants to expand.
These guidelines prohibit towers, homes, etc. from being built and do not prohibit golf courses. I was told the city would ask the FAA about the continued operation of RBG and reboot. At the March 16th City Commission meeting, they discussed the fate of RBG, the cost of continued operation and maintenance. Obviously, the case would have been closed right then and there with no need for discussion if the FAA had told them no more grandfathered in golf courses. No letter prohibiting continued operation from the FAA was produced.
It became clear that The Five never intended to continue operation of RBG in any form. None of them even mentioned the option of putting RBG out for bid again for lease by a private party. I found it odd that not even one Commissioner brought that thoughtful money producing precedent up. As a topper, they then discussed leaving the holes across the road as a conservation area which the FAA also doesn’t recommend because it doesn’t make money for the airport at all.
Mr. Selby said that 30 years ago we had nothing there and now we are right back to nothing. No Mr. Selby. Thirty years ago you had
nothing, got something for nothing that made $4 million and now the city has reverted it back to nothing.
The land is more valuable when it is not used for recreation. They want buildings not fun. Most of the course will go to waste because it is too hilly to be built on.
School Board should focus on helping LGBTQ+ community
I think it’s disgusting that the Volusia County School Board has left the kids in the LGBTQ+ community out flapping in the breeze. These kids are in one of the most at-risk groups for several issues. In Anita Burnette’s letter from March 12, she states: “LGBTQ+ students face higher rates of bullying, harassment, and violence. They experience higher rates of mental illness and, tragically, self-harm.” This is true.
In the Observer’s Feb. 26 issue, the VCSB is focusing on getting “A” grade schools rather than “B” grade schools. I know there are reasons for this (most likely primarily financial, although they say it’s about the children); however, rather than focus on the school, why not focus on the individuals you are supposed to be nurturing and teaching? Kindness is learned. Look at the world – people are attacking others simply because of their race. I know this has gone on for years and humans can be horrible; however, in their formative years, they need mature, adult assistance.
I don’t pretend to know everything; however, I agree with Jamie Haynes rather than Fritz – perhaps she should be in charge? I just want to say I’m extremely happy my children are now grown and not in the VCS system. By the way, neither of them belong to the LBGTQ+ community; however, they have friends and family that do, and they are all loved – they didn’t have to be “accepted”.
Say no to development of underwater parcel
The recent article about the underwater parcel adjoining Cassen Park should raise huge red flags to citizens of Ormond Beach.
Commissioners and Ormond MainStreet have long been obsessed with using a park for a restaurant/marina at the Granada Bridge, and have tried before. A multi-story building in the river would destroy the scenic views from much of the park, and jam the park with cars.
The parcel features no dry land, access to dry land, parking, docks, sewer, power, water, delivery access or garbage pickup. It's located underneath public state waters and on a cable crossing. The commissioners would have to grant permanent use of Cassen Park for all services to present and future land owners.
Cassen Park is one of the four heavily-used public parks at each corner of the Granada Bridge. They are islands of green space; passive multi-use land in the midst of a development epidemic and tidal wave of heavy traffic. They can never be replaced.
Granada riverfront parks belong to all 44,000 citizens of Ormond Beach. Contrary to commissioners' intent, commercialization of our riverfront parks is a huge mistake. Giving away rights to use priceless Cassen Park property in perpetuity is wrong and extremely short-sighted. It would gut the character of Cassen Park, make citizen access a nightmare, and set a precedent for commercial assault on the other parks.
The city is creating a new waterfront parking plan and "park redesign" for Cassen Park. Does that mean paving park green space to expand parking for a restaurant? There are currently 50 parking spaces at Cassen Park. A restaurant alone needs 75-100 parking spaces (The River Grille has 118). Paving would eliminate most, if not all green space and severely impact citizen uses.
The 350 shared parking spaces from Cassen Park west along Granada have thousands of workers and customers vying for them. Adding 500 spaces wouldn't solve the lack of parking in the area.
Cassen Park has the only public boat ramp on the Intracoastal in Ormond Beach. Boating access is the number one problem for boaters in Florida. Those 30 boat trailer spaces should remain at the ramps for our many boaters, not converted to restaurant parking or any other use.
Commissioners, please don't sacrifice Cassen Park to commercial interests by allowing building in the river, commercializing the park or paving our green spaces.
J. R. Miller