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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Official contends potential hike in trail fees ‘doesn’t make sense’

An elected official is arguing that a potential hike in golf course trail fees “doesn’t make sense.”

Community Development District 7 Supervisor Steve Lapp on Thursday reacted to the news that the Project Wide Advisory Committee and Amenity Authority Committee are looking at the possibility of raising trail fees at executive golf courses in The Villages.

The golf courses took a beating during COVID-19 as golfers flocked to them during the lockdown. The pressure on the turf was exacerbated by the fact that four golf carts were used by foursomes as a preventative measure to lessen the chance of spreading the Coronavirus.

The golf courses experienced 450,000 additional “plays” during COVID-19, according to District officials.

However, Lapp countered that it only equated to seven extra daily tee times and suggested that the District was “blowing smoke.” He said their argument “doesn’t make sense.”

District Manager Richard Baier reminded Lapp that much of the wear and tear on the courses was caused by foursomes traveling in four golf carts due to the need for social distancing during the pandemic.

Baier pointed out there were “eight additional tires” on the courses with each group.

However, Supervisor Ed Coleman pushed back against that assertion. He said the turf damage should be greatly lessened because the District as of Jan. 1 cracked down on the “reasonable accommodations” once granted to golfers with physical limitations. The “reasonable accommodation” allows golfers to drive their carts up near the greens and in places where other people cannot drive their carts. The crackdown has greatly reduced the number of golf carts coming off the cart path.

In addition, as of June 1, four golf carts are no longer allowed for foursomes at executive golf courses.

CDD 7 Board Chairman Jerry Vicenti wanted to get down to the bottom line.

“How much are trail fees going to go up?” he asked.

That amount, and if they will be raised at all, has not been determined.

District officials have repeatedly pointed out that trail fees haven’t been raised in 15 years.

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