Rumor Has it…Patch Reef Park to be Sold????

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Two connected puzzle pieces with the words politics and money, representing the influence of wealth in elections.

For two week now, numerous concerned inquiries have come into BocaWatch about ‘Patch Reef Park’ being sold to Rafael Nadal, the world’s number one clay court tennis star, for a private tennis academy.   BocaWatch has followed up on these inquiries to find out that the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District is not and has never considered such a ‘sale’.   Comments to this effect have been provided by both the Executive Director/Legal Counsel Art Koski and District Commissioner Steve Engel.  From their comments, the public can rest assure that no such ‘sale’ is being contemplated nor even possible.  Patch Reef Park is operated by the District on a long term lease from Palm Beach County.

However, that is not the end of the story.  BocaWatch reported weeks ago that the District has been in discussion with the Nadal Group about exploring their interest in collaborating with a public entity here in south Palm Beach County to bring a professional tennis learning center to the County.  “We (the District) are in discussions with the Nadal Group regarding the establishment of a tennis academy, but this will be only on a portion of the park property.  This property will stay in our hands and under our control.  Use of the academy’s facilities will be open to all District residents” responded District Commissioner Steve Engle.

Executive Director Art Koski added additional information.  Mr. Koski indicated that Rafael Nadal has expressed an interest in locating to south Florida, particularly Boca Raton, as a plan for his anticipated departure from world class tennis competition.  To this end, District representatives have met in preliminary discussions with Mr. Nadal’s agents and family members.   Mr. Nadal, a citizen of Spain, currently operates a tennis learning center in Majorca, Spain. (see Below)

With his Majorca facility as a model, Mr. Nadal proposes to present Boca Raton, with a world-class tourist attraction and economic development platform.  This business opportunity may be an attractive alternative opportunity for the District in its efforts to improve Patch Reef’s tennis facilities and community center while accommodating the bigger picture of world class tennis headed up by Mr. Nadal, arguably the world’s number one clay court tennis star.

Being explored is some sort of ‘public private partnership’ with the Nadal Group to design an ‘indoor facility’ accommodating up to four (4) clay courts; a facility that would be headed under the Nadal name as a tennis learning center while also being available to the public in general.  Details are not available as to how this interaction is implemented.  Discussions are in a very preliminary stage.

So, to reiterate, the rumor of Patch Reef Park being sold is not true.  The District is in discussions as reported above with the Nadal Group but no plans are finalized nor details available.

To that end, the District has placed this item on its agenda for discussion at their next scheduled meeting to be held at 5:15 P.M. on the first (1st) Monday in November.  The public is invited to attend this upcoming meeting.  BocaWatch will certainly be there.

HOWEVER…THERE IS A BIGGER ISSUE TO EXPLORE…

Perhaps one of the most visceral topics of concern to the general public in the recent past is the preservation and protection of Boca Raton’s parklands and waterfront.  Attempts to alter the public’s parklands have recently been contemplated at various levels of local government.  Examples abound reflecting this recent phenomena.

This article reports on the Beach and Park District’s exploration of a lease agreement for a portion of Patch Reef Park.  Another current example is found with elected officials at the school board and in the city of Boca Raton advancing arguments to take significant acreage from Sugar Sand Park to build a new school with athletic fields…And, the mother of them all was the Chamber of Commerce openly advocating the commercialization of all Boca Raton’s Intracoastal Waterfront parks, an effort that met with undeniable resistance with the voting public’s overwhelming victory  in the November 2016 referendum on recreational limitations for waterfront properties.

These topics are certainly subject for future commentary and articles but the preliminary lesson to be learned from them is that elected officials are elected as representatives of the people.  They are not modeled after Plato’s Philosopher-Kings, and when topics of such high emotion as our parks and recreation are in play, the public must be made aware of the possibilities at the earliest stage possible.  Elected officials should be heard to shout from the rooftops the possibilities that exist and the public should be invited in to comment and express their directional compass at the earliest stage of discussion.  Elected officials act at their own political peril when the public is left out of the equation.

That is politics 101….and to the elected ‘public servant’; elections are held far too often to forget who you actually serve….

As my third grade teacher would often be heard saying….”A word to the wise should be sufficient”

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Alfred Zucaro has resided in Palm Beach County since 1982 and has been a resident of Boca Raton since 2008. A graduate of Fordham University, he holds a Magna Cum Laude degree in Economics. Mr. Zucaro attended Nova University receiving a Juris Doctorate Law Degree in 1986. He is a member in good standing with the Florida Bar, practicing in the area of Immigration Law for the majority of his career. Currently he is manager/member of Palm Beach Investment and Finance LLC, a USCIS approved regional center identifying foreign investment leading to permanent resident status. Mr. Zucaro served as a City Commissioner in West Palm Beach from 1995 to 2002 and as the President of the City Commission in 2000/2001. He has also been a member of and/or served on the Economic Council, the Business Development Board, the Film and Television Commission, the Tourist Development Council, the Workforce Alliance and the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Of particular interest is his founding of the World Trade Center Palm Beach, an organization that focuses on international economic development. Married to Yvonne Boice, they are avid world travelers having visited 6 continents and dozens of countries since their 2008 nuptials.

9 COMMENTS

  1. What a shame this is even a thought. A line that stuck out to me was “Mr. Nadal proposes to present Boca Raton, with a world-class tourist attraction and economic development platform.
    Um, Boca is already a world class attraction in and of itself and Boca definitely doesn’t need any help with developing economics.

  2. Why not consider putting the tennis center at the proposed Ocean Breeze/Boca Teeca (golf) site. There are currently 6 courts with parking, just north of Jeffery, with a potential clubhouse right across the street.

    The site Tony mentioned is another possibility, but there are other potential uses for that site as well.

    Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers

  3. It would be good to define “it” before debating where to locate it. For example, is the world class tourist tennis attraction of sufficient scale to host a Wimbledon, French or US Open or is it something less and if something less, how much less?

  4. The Beach & Parks Tax District purchased a tennis club on St Andrews, south of Verde Trail. It had tennis courts, swimming pool and a restaurant, Chucks. The restaurant closed so there is a building in place. That is where a tennis facility should be built.

  5. This proposal is not very well thought out. While Nadal would bring the greatest of prestige to our area, Patch Reef would be too limiting for such an academy. It is likely that parents would send their children from all over the country, as well as Canada and South America. In order to accommodate such a school, Patch Reef Park and in particular, its tennis patrons would be adversely affected. Right now, Patch Reef is home to children’s tennis camps, wheelchair training and tournaments, at least 6 daytime women’s leagues, 2 nighttime women’s leagues, FAU tournaments, USTA tournaments, as well as at least 3 men’s tennis leagues. The original proposal by Nadal Group could not possibly handle the business it would attract in this space. South County Park may be a more suitable area as it has the land and space for the academy to grow. Patch Reef is for the people. Please don’t be misled by the original proposal.

  6. Let me understand this. We got some Spanish tennis guy who wants boca to sell him and his friends a big chunk of Patch Reef Park so they can entertain players from all over the world . They say that they will turn boca into a world class destination tennis center. HUH. Lets examine the balance sheet of delray maybe 30 years ago chasing poor defenseless residents off the land needed for the tennis center on atlantic ave.. That center is used maybe 20 days a year. Area residents can’t use it . But if it was a park they could every day. Why on earth would boca residents want to commercialize our parks for tennis players from Europe is akin to Saturday night live episode. They can’t be serious. Who in this city, city council, or chamber of commerce has encouraged this proposition. We all know it is the guys in the shadows the developers. If they can con us like they did in delray 30 years ago why not boca. We need to send a message our parks are not for sale. They are for boca residents not Europeans.

  7. Boca residents we got a serious problem. If you are a long time resident like myself of 35 years we have created a great community what with our A rated schools and beautiful parks and neighborhood sports programs utilizing these parks. Quality developments that are resident friendly are good. Not so good is traffic on and on. Our concern is we have outsiders that have come in and trying to steal our parks. First, the 14 parks on the intercoastal. It took a city wide vote to save those parks. Than an outsider wanted to buy a chunk of Mizner Park for condos. Everybody denies it. Yeh right. Than we have the Bd of Ed that wants to steal land from our Sugar Sand park to build a school. Developers are salivating on that contract. Now we got some Spanish guy that our local Chamber of commerce surely is part of wants to take some park land . Boca is built out so parks are on the dinner plate . We need to unite as one voice . March 2018 send a message in the elections. We are not for sale.

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