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Is the Rock Springs Ridge GC land swap going to survive?

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By Reggie Connell, Managing Editor

It started out with sound and fury. The classic elements of a well-told story. There was a hero, a villain, and a group of residents in distress. There was conflict, a journey to be taken, but also a hopeful path to resolve.

The Rock Springs Ridge Golf Course provided the perfect backdrop to tell the tale, but now it seems as though the anticipated happy ending will simply dissolve into a middle chapter in a very long narrative.

The only problem is, it's non-fiction. The residents of RSR are still saddled with a closed golf course, and an unknown outcome.

Rogers Beckett has been an RSR resident since 2000. At the July 7th Apopka City Council meeting, he got up during public comments and asked a series of questions about the RSR deal. The answers he received were - brief.

"Back on May 21st, I proposed several questions to you about the land swap at Rock Springs Ridge," Beckett said. "I brought it up, but I haven't gotten an official response. People are asking me exactly what your status is, so I wanted to get caught up. Will there be an operating budget and cost analysis provided to the residents of Rock Springs Ridge?"

"No," said Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson.

"When the leasing period is over, will the City or HOA be responsible for the roof?" Beckett asked.

"I don't think there will be a leasing agreement," Nelson responded.

"The land swap itself was predicated on the allowable density for the golf course," Beckett said. "How did you come to that number? Because I know the number was about 17 homes that could be built on that site."

"The transaction amount... I guess he was looking for developable land... and we had those two pieces and it came out to $2.4 million... simple as that," said Nelson. "And I'm not sure that... the agreement continues to move. We don't even have an agreement yet... so even these answers I'm giving you might not be the end game."

Despite the brevity of Nelson's answers, Beckett was okay with the idea of tapping the brakes on this land swap.

"The level of speed we were moving at was concerning," Beckett told The Apopka Voice the day after the meeting. "I think we need to know at least what the City was willing to do and not do. With an investment, you want to evaluate it before you buy it. You want to know the true value and the costs associated with owning it."

It's still difficult to overstate the excitement that swirled around this land swap just a few months ago. In April, 500 people at the Apopka Amphitheater cheered wildly to move forward when Nelson asked if they wanted the City to intervene.

Now? Short answers to difficult questions.

Later in the meeting, Nelson referenced RSR again, asking City Attorney Michael Rodriguez for an update on his conversation with the RSR Homeowners Association attorney.

"I know you're still talking to Kurt Ardaman," Nelson said to Rodriguez."

"I have not received any information from Kurt Ardaman," replied Rodriguez."

"So maybe we are talking and maybe we aren't," said Nelson. "But it's not for a lack of being accessible, so... no real update there."

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