I’m sure there’s a lot of temptation to point fingers over the collapse of the golf course deal. On one side, you have a powerful corporate executive blaming a stiff bureaucracy. On the other, you have a city administration saying they were out to protect the tax payer.
On this, I’m going to side with the city. I don’t know what was on the list of issues they presented to Larry Shelley of Citrus Capital at that fateful Friday meeting. Apparently the list was so awful, so impossible to work around, that Shelley felt forced to walk away from the table.
I wonder about that decision. By all accounts, negotiations had been going well up to that point. Both Shelley and Mayor Mark McKee had praise for each other. They both spoke highly of the deal that was in the works.
That’s why I don’t get why he was so quick to walk away from the table. McKee wasn’t present at that meeting, but if the two really had such a good working relationship, why didn’t Shelley call him right away to talk about the unfolding situation? Months of work had gone into the lease negotiations by that point. Do you really give that up in 10 minutes?
Now, it’s possible there were deal breakers in the list of conditions. Maybe they couldn’t have been worked around and a deal wouldn’t have happened. But to not even try to work something out — that’s on Mr. Shelley.
Now we can only hope the city learned a few things from the negotiations, and that those lessons are used to help the golf course going forward.