Amid an ongoing debate over the fate of the bayfront miniature golf course, Don Crichlow expressed his own ideas of what he thinks should be done with the city-owned property during his first meeting since being appointed to an interim term on the St Augustine City Commission.
The lease with the current tenant, Ripley Entertainment, has run out — they continue to operate the 1949 landmark miniature golf course on a month-to-month basis. It is believed that the familiar icon is the oldest of its kind in the State of Florida; however, it does not meet standards for handicap accessibility and will require about $50,000 in construction to come into compliance with applicable provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Ripley’s offered to pay the money — but wants another five-year lease to amortize the renovations cost. Last August, after it appeared that Ripley’s had inched out Historic Tours of America in a bid process being administered by the city’s General Services Department, Mayor Joe Boles intervened.
“Why are we not working with the current tenant?” Crichlow asked fellow commissioners Monday night. Commissioner Leanna Freeman has been asking the same question since the bid process was thwarted last year.
The mayor wants to see the putt-putt golf course bulldozed in favor of green space that could be leased on a transient basis, day-to-day, for weddings or other special events. Newly elected Commissioner Roxanne Horvath is supporting a redesign of the bayfront miniature golf site, as well.
Crichlow, however, was not rising in support of the popular bayfront carpet golf — he has, instead, suggested building a carousel on the property.
“What is more traditional for a downtown than a carousel?” Crichlow asked. “It could be themed with Conquistador horses.”
It was clear that the time for consensus was not at hand, so Crichlow won commission support to extend Ripley’s current month-to-month agreement. “Continue with Ripley’s until the end of September so that they can make plans for the summer season without concerns of losing their lease.”