When Gateway was planned back in 1986 the developer’s vision was that the Gateway Golf & Country Club would be the focal point of the community. The thought back then was that the success of the country club would be vital to the entire town, and that if it failed so would Gateway as a whole.

The reality of course is that the golf club did fail, just as we predicted, and nobody outside of its membership even noticed.

Earlier this year the GGCC membership was forced to put the club up for sale, and eventually they agreed to sell the club to a group operated by the GGCC’s former General Manager, Jimmy Lynn.

Consequently, the (currently) private golf course and its amenities were renamed The Club at Gateway.

Lynn wrote a letter to the Gateway Services District on June 4 of this year, and followed it up by attending the July 5 meeting of the Board of Supervisors to inform the public that there are 5 wells in Gateway that were designed to help feed water to the golf course during drought conditions.

According to Lynn’s letter, the pumps were “last utilized in 2008”. From what we were able to gather from Lynn’s letter, all 5 wells feed Lake 5-L10-LK1, and then water is pumped from that lake in to the golf course’s irrigation system.

Lynn said some nights between 700,000 to 800,000 gallons of water are used to irrigate the golf course, and that the new owners of the golf club want the wells restored to working conditions. More to the point, they would like the GSCDD (ie: Gateway residents) to foot the bill for the repairs.

Vice-Chairman Bill Guy asked Lynn if the new ownership group discovered this specific irrigation issue during the due diligence phase of the purchase, and Lynn answered that his group did not.

District Manager Chris Shoemaker advised the Supervisors that based on his research, it could cost up to $500,000 to restore the wells.

Supervisor Ed Tinkle, who I believe is a member of The Club, came out strongly in favor of using Gateway resident’s money to help the privately owned golf business. Tinkle also said that Gateway Greens has 1350 homes and that “if the golf course goes brown, home values go down.”

Chairman Margaret Fineberg expressed concerns about taking money from every corner of Gateway and spending it to the benefit of a private business. Lynn echoed Tinkle’s sentiment that property values would drop if his golf course is not properly irrigated, thus in his opinion it is a public concern for all of Gateway to have the wells restored.

Guy asked Lynn if The Club would be willing to foot the bill for the well restoration. Lynn did not answer that question, but said his company would be willing to explore a partnership with the GSCDD.

Tinkle equated spending money on the private golf course to spending money on soccer fields. A visibly puzzled Supervisor Doug Banks had to explain to Tinkle the difference between a public amenity which anyone can use, and a private golf club.

Banks also said, “Right now I don’t think there’s any benefit to the majority of the community, so that’s why I think there might be some resistance.”

In the end, Lynn walked away from the podium without any promises from the Supervisors. It seems likely that The Club will continue to press the board to fix the wells, but since they have not even been utilized since 2008 – and most of the board members weren’t even aware of their existence until last week – it’s unclear whether the Supervisors will commit any public funds to this issue.

It’s probably true that back in the 1980s and even 1990s that the former Gateway Golf & Country Club was of extreme importance to Gateway’s prestige. But the community has grown by leaps and bounds since those days and I feel as though it’s an outdated view to think that all of Gateway would suffer if the grass at the golf course isn’t green enough.

Gartner isn’t going to say “we’re outta here!” if the golf club’s lawn goes brown. And the suggestion made by both Tinkle and Lynn that home values in Daniel’s Preserve and Cypress Cay will plummet if the grass at the golf course isn’t sufficiently irrigated was totally absurd. The scariest part is… I think those men may actually believe it.

And I hate to offer a political lesson here, but there is a political element.

There is a group of people in Gateway Greens who can literally be described as a cabal. They’ve held secret meetings and organized themselves to collectively run in the 2018 election for Seat 5 of the Board of Supervisors.

And what did we tell you their goal was? To direct as many Gateway’s assessment dollars as possible for the sole benefit of Gateway Greens. As we will detail in the coming weeks, Tinkle has been personally involved in riling up this group.

But ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake, this article is Exhibit A of the cabal’s purpose.

This is just one example of what you could expect if the group successfully takes over the Gateway District board. If they had control of the board today, this project would have been immediately approved and $500,000 worth of tax dollars would be spent to the specific benefit of a private business and their own community.

These pumps apparently haven’t been needed and haven’t even been functional since 2008. And if I understood what I heard correctly they were barely ever used at all in their entire history, which is probably why the GGCC ignored them.

Maybe a three-way partnership between the GSCDD, Gateway Greens HOA and The Club would be appropriate here? Maybe the three parties could get one or two of the wells going at a much lower cost? I just don’t know.

But I do know that the argument presented by Tinkle and Lynn that the entire Gateway community needs this $500,000 fix to part of the golf course’s irrigation system — which I remind you hasn’t been used in a decade — is nonsense.

Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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