On January 8th of 2019, Mr. Kevin Abbate, Director of Parks and Recreation presented a 15 point plan to the BOCC to redo the Martin County Golf Course. The main tenets of the plan included the following key points:

  1. Reduce the course from 36 to 27 holes by re-designing the Red and White Courses to a 9 hole walkable, executive course.
  2. Construct a “modest” 4,000 square foot clubhouse with a small bar, grille and full kitchen.
  3. Upgrade the 18 hole Gold and Blue course to include the greens, tees, fairways and cart paths.
  4. Utilize $400,000 from 2019 budgeted allocations (Parks Paving Funds-$200,00 & Fixed Asset Replacement Budget-$200,000) to improve golf cart pathways.
  5. Utilize the design-build procurement method for golf course renovations which includes golf holes and all practice facilities.

 

Mr. Abbate proposed a line item budget and stated verbally and in writing that “The maximum amount of borrowing for the golf course improvements will not exceed $5.5 million.”

The BOCC unanimously approved the motion made by Commissioner Smith and seconded by Commissioner Jenkins, “for approval of staff’s recommendation” and requested that the project be expedited.

Sixteen and a half months later, on 19 May 2020, Mr. Abbate again appeared before the BOCC where he revealed that $2.4 million was spent on the 9 hole walkable, executive course (the original budget of $2.3 million plus $100,000 in change orders. $3.1 million was left unspent; however, this did not include an additional $1.5 million for the clubhouse which was 90% designed and $305,000 for the cart paths for the Gold and Blue Course.

He elaborated that the “modest” 4,000 square foot clubhouse was being designed at 5,500 square feet and the construction costs were estimated to be between $400-500/ square foot. 

It should be noted that average construction costs for a home run between $150-$200/square foot on the Treasure Coast.

Below is a chart indicating the original line item projected costs, the revised numbers and the variances in dollar amounts and percentages.

 

ITEM PROJECTED PRICE REVISED VARIANCE PERCENTAGE REASON
Clubhouse & Parking
4,000 sq ft clubhouse $1,200,000 $2,200,000 – $2,750,000 $1,000,000 – $1,550,000 83%-129.2% Increase in 1,500 sq ft + sq ft price
Relocate Existing Pro Shop $200,000 $200,000 0 0
Clubhouse furniture,Fixtures & Equip. $144,000 $144,000 0 0
Pro-Shop Improvements $200,000 $200,000 0 0
Cart Barn Improvements $100,000 $100,000 0 0
Clubhouse Site work $864,000 $1,300,000 – $436,000 50.5% Original amount for landscape, irrigation, lighting, parking, etc.; Revised amt for park lot & lift station
SUB-TOTAL $2,708,000 $4,694,000 – $1,986,000 73.3% Variance $1,550,000 used in total calculation
Golf Course Improvements
Executive 9 & Practice
Facilities $1,550,000 $2,490,000 – $940,000 60.6% $2.3 M spent plus $190,000 in change orders for 9 holes
Replacement Cart Paths $250.000 $305,000 – $55,000 22.0%
Blue & Gold Improve $487,000 $487,000 0 0 Greens/tees & fairways in written budget, Oral presentation by Mr. Abatte on 1/8/19 included cart paths
SUB-TOTAL $2,287,000 $3,282,000 – $ -995,000 43.5%
Removal of Exotics $500,000 $500,000 0 0
TOTAL 5,495,000 $8,476,000 $2,981,000 54.2%

download chart here

The BOCC on a motion made by Commissioner Smith, directed Mr. Abbate to obtain the final cost estimates to include the cart paths on the Blue and Gold courses and return to the commission.

The cost overrun raises serious questions:

  1. Who authorized the change from a “modest” 4,000 square foot clubhouse to a 5,500 square foot club house? This was never brought before the commission.
  2. Why the cost increase in construction costs from $300/sq. ft. to $400-500/sq. ft.?
  3. What happened to the $400,000 from 2019 budgeted allocations (Parks Paving Funds-$200,000 & Fixed Asset Replacement Budget-$200,000) to improve golf cart pathways? Does this mean the pathways are really costing the taxpayers $705,000 as opposed to the original estimate of $250,000?
  4. Why did it take 16 ½ months for the cost overrun to be brought before the commission? When did county administration become aware of the problem?

 

While the concept behind the golf course revitalization is sound with updated practice facilities, an executive course and revitalization of the Gold and Blue course, it does not absolve county administration of the charge of mis-management of the project or bait and switch on the project.   A cost overrun of 53% on a project is simply unacceptable.

Who will be held accountable? 

What actions will be taken to insure it does not occur on future projects?

The BOCC should direct Ms. Kryzda to:

  1. Relieve Mr. Abbate of his oversight of the project.
  2. Reduce the club house to a “modest” 4,000 square feet and deliver it for the budgeted $300/sq. ft. or less.
  3. Conduct and internal audit to determine happened to the $400,000 from 2019 budgeted allocations (Parks Paving Funds-$200,00 & Fixed Asset Replacement Budget-$200,000) to improve golf cart pathways.
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