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Golf course at top of Zephyrhills agenda

After recent failures, city officials hope they have found a manager for its course, which has lost more than $80,000 in recent years.

By BRADY DENNIS, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 13, 2002


After recent failures, city officials hope they have found a manager for its course, which has lost more than $80,000 in recent years.

ZEPHYRHILLS -- From golf course woes to visions of the city's future to drawings of a coming police station, the City Council agenda for tonight spans a spectrum of issues facing Zephyrhills.

Perhaps none is more urgent than finding someone to take over management of Zephyrhills Golf Course, which has cost the city more than $80,000 in recent years.

The course's most recent manager, Maynard Evenson, promised huge changes for the course and a boost in revenue. Since initially defaulting on lease payments to the city, Evenson disappeared in January.

Before Evenson, previous manager Nancy Lester also had let the course deteriorate. The city sued Lester in March 2000 after declaring that she had defaulted on her lease in which she had promised to plant Bermuda grass on the tees, greens and fairways and to spend $42,000 to renovate the clubhouse.

Finally, Lester agreed to vacate the course by mid May 2000.

Now, city leaders think they have found a manager who will stick around.

Fumi Doi, owner of Silver Oaks Golf Course, says he already has put thousands of dollars into the course during Evenson's tenure and wants to turn the course around.

The city's Airport Authority last week recommended that Doi take over the lease, and the city could seal the deal tonight. "It looks like our last, best hope," said City Manager Steve Spina. "(So far) it's been like stepping in gum and not being able to get it off our heels."

On another front, officials from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council will present their final report from three visioning sessions conducted during the past two weeks.

According to the report, 62 residents helped discuss the city's future and devised a mission statement that labels Zephyrhills a "friendly community" that respects its heritage, values diversity and encourages growth while maintaining its "small town, neighborly charm."

Residents listed six main objectives for the future: construction of a multipurpose civic center, preservation and enhancement of neighborhoods, establishment of rational city boundaries, better cooperation of city and county services, enhanced community spirit and expanded opportunities for economic growth and development.

Speaking of the future, police Chief Robert Howell will present plans for the new police station, on which workers are scheduled to break ground this year.

The $2.6-million, 16,000-square-foot facility will sit on 4.04 acres off Eighth Street near the current post office, which the city bought last year for $70,000. The new building is designed to last at least 20 years. According to architect sketches, the station will contain six holding cells, an evidence room and a cluster of interrogation rooms.

Tonight's City Council meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. inside city hall, 5335 Eighth St. Council members also will have a workshop starting at 4 p.m. to discuss utility connection fees and midyear budget revisions.

-- Brady Dennis covers the city of Zephyrhills and crime in east Pasco. To reach him, call (352) 521-5757, ext. 23, or toll free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6108, then 23. His e-mail address is dennis@sptimes.com.

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