Mayor Joe Kilsheimer and the City Commissioners heard a proposal for the City of Apopka to acquire property to build a park on land owned by the Apopka Golf and Tennis at Errol Estate (formerly Errol Estate Golf and Country Club).
Over the course of several months prior to 2015, Errol Estate's utility accounts became severely delinquent, according to the city. The previous owner Patrick Daoust stopped paying the utilities bill and eventually sold the golf course to longtime winter resident and former Errol owner Larry Klein. Klein, 91, was not aware of the liability at the time of closing.
The city attempted to collect the debt from Klein, and also filed and recorded a lien for the amount owed. Over the past year, Klein paid a very small amount towards utilities. However, the total amount still owed is $169,728.27 according to city documents.
In a meeting between Mayor Kilsheimer, City Administrator Glen Irby, Tom Russell and Paul Borders (Russell and Borders are representatives for Klein), the idea of donating land to clear the previous owner’s debt was considered and later agreed upon by Klein.
Both parties were pleased with the outcome.
“It’s important to me that the City of Apopka be fairly compensated for this outstanding water bill. The idea of taking ownership of a parcel, which can be developed into a ‘pocket park’ for residents who live along Vick Road, is an attractive prospect.”
-Mayor Joe Kilsheimer
The parcel is 11.22 acres and is located contiguous to Vick Road on the east side. While it does not have an address, it can be easily located by traveling north on Vick Road from Old Dixie Highway to where there is a designated golf cart crossing with a yellow flashing beacon. The parcel is due east of this point. It was formerly the fourth hole of the Grove Course at Errol. Those nine holes have been closed for the past three years.
Klein sees the agreement as a positive for all of Apopka.
“It’s a win/win for everyone. It benefits the environment, the community, the city and Mr. Klein is happy to make this donation. We are very pleased the city is willing to do this.”
Councilman Bill Arrowsmith was also pleased with the outcome.
"It's a good opportunity for us," said Arrowsmith.
The land has a flowing artesian well and would make an excellent site for a neighborhood park, according to documents provided by the City of Apopka in description of the property.
Klein is pleased with the potential outcome.
"I wanted to settle this in a reasonable manner," said Klein. "So I donated property from the (Grove) course that was closed. I think it will work out for everyone."
According to an appraisal done on behalf of the city, the property has a value of $168,330.
The golf course is currently for sale, as it was never Klein’s intent to do anything other than save it from closing.
“His (Klein’s) primary purpose in purchasing the golf course was to keep the doors open and find an appropriate buyer who shares his vision of bringing it (Apopka Golf and Tennis at Errol Estate) back to its former stature,” said Russell. “By doing so he saved our community.”
Klein sees it as a civic duty to both Apopka and the Errol community.
"Errol is very important not only to Apopka, but to the Errol residents," said Klein. "I couldn't watch it dry up. Someone had to step up to the plate."
The council voted 5-0 to advance the sale.