Rotonda residents at odds over closed golf course land

ENGLEWOOD — A number of Rotonda residents are taking issue over how the Rotonda West Association has handled the approximately 166-acre, abandoned nine-hole, golf course property in Pinemoor East.

In two meetings at the Rotonda West Community Center on Tuesday and Wednesday, much of the time was spent discussing deed restrictions and the future of the golf course. The majority of the blame is aimed at Bill Stine, owner of the Rotonda Golf & Country Club.

‘The Rotonda West Association is trying to back him on donating this property,’ said Rotonda resident Bruce Pattona. ‘He’ll get a tax write-off and he’ll come out smelling like a rose.’

Pattona said his property value dropped over $1,000, and fears what may happen if Stine donates the property to RWA.

‘When I built my home, there was an existing golf course,’ Pattona said. ‘You know yourself that anybody living on a golf course, their property is worth more. I tried to get my tax rate lowered and the county wouldn’t do it.’

Pattona said he thinks if the property is donated, the cost to maintain the area might be passed on to the homeowners.

‘I cannot believe that they would attempt to put the members in a position to take, finance and get a for-profit corporation off the hook, Rotonda resident Gil Guy said.

Guy, a member of Rally for Rotonda, accuses RWA of not maintaining the grounds on the basis of the deed restrictions.

‘That’s why I said (David) Kelly should be off the board,’ Guy said. ‘This is a conflict of interest whether he recuses himself from a vote. He is still present and claims to be an owner.’

Kelly, general manager of Rotonda Golf & Country Club, refutes the claim, saying the club maintains the property and wants what’s best for the community.

‘We’re not going to let the property go to some contractor or some commercial entity to do whatever they want. We want a part of it. These are our neighbors,’ he said.

Jay Lyons, manager of the Rotonda West Association, said the poor conditions are due to a foreclosure four years ago.

‘Two and a half to three of those years, it was under Dennis Fullenkamp management,’ Lyons said. ‘Dennis is a local developer. So he was running Pinemoor West, and basically just sitting on Pinemoor East as a nonoperational facility.

‘Now there are all kinds of discussions going on about selling the courses, and some of the concepts are going in there, but nothing ever developed. We’re constantly arguing with Dennis Fullenkamp about maintaining the property.’

Lyons said as upset as some residents are about not living on an active golf course, they should be just as aware what they are getting into.

‘Stuff happens,’ he said. ‘It’s no fault of Rotonda Golf Partners the previous owner went bankrupt, and you can’t legislate whether or not a business should have to operate in an unprofitable situation. The interesting part about this is there seems to be a desire on part of the people to live on a golf course, to legislate that it has to be a golf course. How do you legislate that?’

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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