Thursday, February 12, 2004
First Tee Opponents Take Mulligan
They are not giving up. The trio of Seaside residents who have taken on city hall over the controversial First Tee project have decided to take the fight to the people.
Helen Rucker, Billy DeBerry and Lance Houston, known as the Citizens for Responsible Decision-Making, have begun a ballot initiative to put the matter to a public vote. They believe Seaside needs economic development, that the city doesn’t need to be using its Fort Ord land for another golf course and it doesn’t need the affected gentility more golf might lend.
“People say this will bring prestige to the city of Seaside,” says Rucker, a former city councilmember and civil rights advocate. “Prestige don’t buy anything. Prestige don’t pay the bills and if we have to give away our land and resources for prestige there’s something wrong with us…People need work.”
First Tee is a national organization that teaches golf to disadvantaged kids with the intention of providing larger life lessons. Last summer, the city approved a plan for an 18-hole golf course on undeveloped Fort Ord land across from city-owned Bayonet/Blackhorse golf courses. The plan includes a new headquarters for the Monterey Peninsula Foundation.
The foundation, which hosts the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament, brought in First Tee to run the youth golf program, and says the plan represents an investment of $12 million. Rent of $1 per year will be paid on the course and $116,880 on the foundation building. Excluding re-negotiation, the city acquires the facilities when the leases end.
The golf course will use 125 acres near Eucalyptus and Gen. Jim Moore roads. According to city documents, the project will consume 110 acre-feet of water out of the city’s allocation of 748 acre-feet of potable water. That allocation must cover all the city’s development on its share of Fort Ord, including the controversial Seaside Highlands project and a stalled project to build a resort at Bayonet/Blackhorse.
According to the agreements however, reclaimed water must be used on the golf course once that supply becomes available, possibly in five years.
Ollie Nutt, executive vice president of the foundation and point man for the project, says his side is not backing down either. “We have an absolute commitment to First Tee in Monterey County.” Resistance in Seaside means First Tee can easily go somewhere else, and, says Nutt, “they’ll be losing a major investment.” [AS]