Golf Could End in Killearn, Walking Trails Considered

Golf Could End in Killearn, Walking Trails Considered

Tallahassee Reports has learned that the financial situation with the Killearn Country Club has become so dire that consideration is being given to closing all golf operations and turning the 18 hole course into walking trails.

Sources tell TR that developer JT Burnett recently met with Killearn Homeowners Association (KHA) representatives at an “Executive Board” meeting and said he believed Barton Tuck – the owner of the club – would take $1 million for the 18 hole golf course.

The “Executive Board” is made up of Board President David Ferguson, Board Vice-President Gloria Arias, Secretary Charles Faircloth, and Treasurer Philip Inglese.

After a discussion about the costs of running the golf course, talks centered around the demolition of all the structures on the land and converting the course into walking trails.

There was also a discussion about swapping land that the KHA owns to reduce the costs to purchase the course.

TR was told that the land discussed included property at the entrance of the Killearn neighborhood from Thomasville Road and property that is home to a community pool and tennis courts on Killearney Way.

The “Executive Board” meeting comes after long-time Killearn Country Club General Manager and Barton Tuck supporter Lori Wilkey abruptly resigned.

The “Executive Board” meeting was followed by a February 5th Board meeting where the issue was discussed and ultimately no action was taken.

David Ferguson, the President of the KHA Board of Directors, told TR that the Board has discussed various scenarios with Tuck and his representatives, in addition to the recent $1 million offer.

Ferguson was reluctant to discuss the specifics of the “Executive Board” meeting.

However, Ferguson said that nothing would be decided until the current litigation over the proposed development is resolved.

The future of the course has been tied up in litigation since the Tallahassee City Commission gave the go-ahead for a controversial redevelopment plan in April 2017 which resulted in the closing of the north nine holes of the 27-hole course.

The lawsuit is scheduled for oral argument on March 12, 2019 at the First District Court of Appeal.

TR was told by people close to the situation that the discussion about closing the golf course was based on the financial realities facing the club. The combination of fewer people playing golf and a facility that has become an eye sore are not ideal conditions for attracting investment.

However, some club members and neighborhood residents believe the quality of the golf course and the location – in the middle of the Killearn Estates neighborhood – can attract the resources needed to revive the club.

34 Responses to "Golf Could End in Killearn, Walking Trails Considered"

  1. Was getting ready to move back to Tallahassee and buy a house in and join Killearn Golf and Country Club (a favorite from the past) for the golf, tennis (and pickleball?), swimming, dining and social experiences but I see there is trouble in paradise. so it’s far from being just a golf course (which is great) but a multidimensional recreational and social facility that enhances property values too. Now what to do?

  2. Jlh,
    It appears to me, that finger pointing, and poison pen statements from the killearn neighbors on the north course has not accomplished any progress that is positive for our killearn future. Wanting the same outcome for the killearn owners on the East and South courses is childish and short sited.

    On the other hand, trying to out guess the financial direction by Burnett, Tuck and the KHA board without proper facts and participation by the community is a sure fire way to assure failure for the entire Kilkearn community.
    I’m one of the guilty members, who wants a positive outcome in this mess, but never attends board meetings or volunteers to run for a board. I know there must be at least 3000 quality killearn home owners that can contribute their expertise.

    I challenge me and you to ta k e control of what is ours and apply information and leverage to all envolved.

  3. I hope KCC will never be used as walking trails in my lifetime and I’m 52. Whoever said (SKIP) there are only 3 rounds a day played is totally mistaken. We have a vibrant group of 40+++ (25 to 55 years old’s) who play 2 to 4 times of week. We are hanging on because we love the course and the group we have become. Yes the 25 year old’s and under really do not care about golf like we use too which makes it hard for any golf course to survive now-a-days. The golf course was built first and then Killearn was created. The majority of KOA homeowners voted in not to buy KCC, because they all know there KOA dues will go up significantly. Let the board members or the 2 to 3 people holding up with endless litigation come up with a check. I bet they don’t for sure.

  4. A question for the developer or thise who have the information:
    Where can we see the designs of the new 150 homes planned to build?,
    What will be thwse new homes selling prices?
    If the value of those 150 new homes is the same or above the Killearn Homes then it will be worthy to build.
    If the property belongs to an independent owner, why dies he need the approval of the HOA to sell his property?
    It sounds like Killearn home owners are leasing the community property from the developer. Is that the case?

  5. I find it laughable all these golf experts that think they can run a golf operation better than someone who is actually in the golf business. All the lawsuit did was speed up the demise of Killearn. Stop living in the past. Killearn cannot return to its glory years of the mid 70’s. At best it could be a nice public facility. 27 holes no. 18 maybe. Even if Tuck had his way I’m not sure it would have made a difference. Investing $5 million plus is what’s needed and that doesn’t make sense today. Golf is not well supported in this town or many places anymore. Summerbrooke and Capital City are on life support. Golden Eagle can barely keep members. The Seminole reboot can only survive with an FSU subsidy. Southwood will quickly follow the path of Killearn, just wait. I love the game and I love Killearn but today’s generation has neither.

  6. Hundreds of courses are closing every year across the country.Bu every metric Golf is a dying sport.Players.Rounds Played.Number of Courses.Equipment Sales.etc. all way down.Good Rule of Thumb when Nike exits an entire business it’s dead.Other than a few cranky 60 year olds and some clueless HOA Board Members who are all over 60 as well who cares if the Club closes?.Far better uses for the land as referenced above by several such as Paks.Jogging Trails.etc..How about a Chick Fil A so we always don’t have to go to the slammed Bannerman Store!!

  7. It’s incredible to me that our fellow North Killearn HOA members truly believe that somehow,buying a home on any golf course, gives them the right to dictate to the sole owner of the property on his business deceison.
    Constant Litigation, non support of the golf course, segregation from other Killearn residents, and wishing owners on the East and South would also be without a beautiful golf course to enjoy , somehow, will make them happy.

  8. Right now the new, local owners of Southwood Golf Course are smiling ear-to-ear. They made a very well-calculated risk in buying the property. Seminole is going to, if not already, close for a huge renovation. If Southwood does the right things it will be the big winner. As a former member of Killearn this entire saga is very sad, but very predictable. I wish the HOA and the homeowners the best. But, look at who you are having to deal with…hope for the best, expect the worst.

  9. It is interesting to me how many golf course management experts we have in killearn that are ready to tell someone how the KHA should be ‘Making Mr.Tuck’ run his business! Our KHA recieves on average $150.00 ‘a Year’ from the about 3900 home owners members to maintain 11 parks, seven lakes and all of the other common property in killearn estates. Also pay three KHA employees and office building expenses. The board members Volenteer their time and receive no compensation, except hopefully being able to help keep up the ‘property values’ of their homes and those of their neighbors. So when I read remarks from people saying the Executive Board or board members are not doing what is in the best interest of all of killearn , it ticks me off. KHA a year ago had three or four open board seats and not one member of killearn estate put their name in to replace the current board members. If members are not pleased with the board there are four more board seats coming up for re-election this yeas and I would encourage people to apply on the website. Until then I hope Neightbors in killearn estates would come up with real ideas and advice that would help! Not just leave negative statements in the comments section of TP..

  10. KW, did the covenants protect the home owners on the north course? What about the HOA Executive Board idea to consider trading community property for a walking trail? Will the covenants and restrictions help the people that live around the community property traded? Will the C&R’s help protect the integrity of the neighborhood? What about the lie that a new club house would be built? Any C&R help there?

    It would be nice to have an HOA that could stand up to outside Developers! And why the hell is this Executive committee meeting without neighbored input? Shame on them.

  11. I think the plan was that JT Burnett and Co. would pay the outstanding balance. I believe he has the property under contract with Tuck for $2.5 million. Remember that amount of $ was going to build a $4-$5 million club house. Looks like that isn’t going to happen. If the owner accepted $1 million from the HOA, along with Burnett $, the debt could in fact be satisfied thereby allowing JT Burnett to move forward with his 150 +/- unit development. The HOA Executive Board is floating the idea surreptitiously and that isn’t good for the neighborhood. All of this should be discussed in the sunshine.

  12. . . . “Perhaps the owner is not investing in the club so that it will fail and the membership terminate, and along with any remaining purchase option?”

    Ya think?

  13. For there to be a change in use of the club to walking paths or anything else, the owner would have to offer it up for sale to the residents under the original covenant that is in litigation, or at least comply with the newer special restrictive covenant he filed in March 2016 for the remaining 18 holes requiring it to be used exclusively as a “golf course” until 2061 (O.R. Book 4900, Page 2305). This would mean extending a right to purchase to the “membership of the Killearn Golf and Country Club, by whatever name it might function under.” But, the exclusive use and right to purchase includes odd language about “unless sooner terminated”. Perhaps the owner is not investing in the club so that it will fail and the membership terminate, and along with any remaining purchase option?

    Also, its interesting to note that the owner might take $1 million to purchase the club, because there is at least $2.5 million owing to United National Bank per public records (O.R. Book 5219,Page 01400). What’s the plan for the $1.5 million deficiency judgment?

    1. Your the first person that has mad complete sense based on actual facts. The course isn’t going anywhere. The covenants protect all the home owners. Quite franckly I’m dissapointes that TR would write an article without being better versed in the stipulations of the course, this is simply a s*#+ stirring article fed by someone that has something to gain.

      1. Steve’s done as fair a job or reporting about this fiasco. The problem is there hasn’t been adequate or accurate info for anyone, including the city commission who approved the land use change unanimously after meeting with residents and saying they would not approve without adequate, accurate information. The entire thing is a debacle.

    1. People need to take some No-Doze and come to the monthly KHA Board Meetings. Next one is March 5th at 6:30 at office on Killarney Way. It is our responsibility to stay informed and keep an eye out. Board Meetings are a good place to do that. Don’t be put off by the length of meetings and seemingly endless and HIGHLY repetitive discussion. Perhaps in the future, meetings will change and be a bit more accessible and interactive, but if driving to the office once a month is what we need to do to ensure everyone is included in the discussion, so be it.

      1. I used to go all the time. The issue is the corrupt board never discusses anything of importance at the meeting. They always claim privilege on important issues and go into their “executive board meeting” and do everything in the dark. The land swap is also an underhanded way of trying to circumvent the bylaws of the neighborhood requiring any purchase or sale of land by the KHOA to have 75% (I think 75% is the number from what I remember) of all homeowners in the community support in a referendum.

  14. As a 12-year Killearn resident, I’d hate to see the golf course land fall into neglect or be built out with more homes. If it’s at all economically possible and practical, it would be great to keep the course open as an 18-hole public course. I think the course is an attractive addition to Killearn, and our home for 20 years in Orlando was in a neighborhood that had a beautiful and thriving public golf course in it’s center.

    However, if the course can’t continue in any “golf” form, making it into walking trails and a scenic area with perhaps another playground park is a far better outcome than the land falling into weeds or being developed as more homes. Most “new” master developments in Florida include sizable “greenways” or “nature walks” areas so it’s not some new, untested gimmick.

    Questions, Steve: About the land “swaps” you refer to – would the two areas mentioned (front of Killearn by Thomasville Rd. and the public pool-tennis court area) actually be given as “swaps” to Mr. Tuck as partial payment for the golf course? If so, what then happens to those two areas? Or – is the land “swapped” to other buyers to be built on?

  15. Killearn Country Club has been a viable community asset for 50 years. Many generations have enjoyed the amenities that was Killearn Country Club. The club offered golf, tennis, swimming, fitness and fine dining. It was good for the neighborhood, and Killearn lots were sold as a golf course community. It is shameful that the city commission allowed a comp plan change on property that was dedicated as a golf course. Even more shameful is that the HOA participated in allowing this to happen. Under the leadership of John Paul Bailey at the HOA and Barton Tuck’s ability to employ the lobbying firm of Vancore Jones; the city commission allowed a change of zoning. Residents became divided because litigation arose that might actually determine if the zoning change was legal.

    Where is the $4-$5 million new club house? And why would the HOA pay when the deal was that if JT got the rezoning a new facility would be built? It seems to me that JT and Barton should be paying the HOA $1,000,000 to take it off their hands? Then again, it being in the hands of the HOA could make the situation even more disastrous. The best scenario is for it to go into bankruptcy where someone with a vision could come revive it!

  16. I’m sure the 3 people that play at Killearn each day will be devestated by this news.As I’ve said for at least a decade let it go bankrupt and the course can return to partly a park.partly a dog park..and the rest can be be jogging trails.This nonsense of lawsuits and some trying to save the course needs to end.

  17. From strictly a golf perspective, it amazes me that what began with a simple idea of having 9 holes more than the Club needed has turned to this. KCC members needed a well maintained 18 hole facility and a plan to update the physical buildings over time. And now look what we have. Eliminating the golf course where the PGA Tour once held the Tallahassee Open, the LPGA held its largest event The Centel Classic ( because of Tallahassee resident Jack Frazee) and where so many of us grew up. It didn’t have to go this way. This isn’t a case of the market telling us that golf wasn’t needed in this location. Killeen was struggling to support 27 holes at a private club level. Many facilities all over this country have a private course and a public course at the same venue. The underutilized 9 at KCC didn’t need to turn into this mess. Unbelievable.

  18. Well now kick back artist J T Burnett of “usual suspect” City of Tallahassee fame.
    I feel sorry for everyone in the HOA.
    Keep yourselves pre-lubed 24/7 HOA members.
    Kick back artist J T Burnett has assumed the position to give you all the shaft. Just bite down on a piece of wood and stare at a spot on the wall so it wont hurt so bad.
    Feeling sorry for you guys.
    Hey your one and only shot at avoiding that pain is if the FBI gets to J T and keeps him busy with an indictment before J T gets to you HOA members.
    Good luck with that.

    1. Didn’t Burnett sell Kristin Dozier a home in midtown for a price that was about 2/3 of market value, which she sold about a year later for market value? All while she maintained homestead exemption on her Wetherbine St. condo?

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