Monday May 14, the St Augustine City Commission will resume discussion, and may take a vote, on the lease renewal request for the bayfront miniature golf course; a city-owned icon located between the marina and Bridge of Lions since it was opened in 1949.
Ripley Entertainment, based in Orlando, operates the attraction and utilizes the caddy shack as a location to sell tickets for its museum and sightseeing trains. As far as can be determined, it remains the longest running miniature golf course in Florida.
The five-year lease is up for renewal as of September 30, and Ripley would like to renew — even asking for an option to extend the lease for an additional five-year term, if possible.
In the last commission meeting, Assistant City Manager Tim Burchfield brought a report to the board that indicated that in order to bring the public miniature golf course into compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the cost would approach $50,000.
If the city decides not to renew the lease with Ripley Entertainment, they would have to pay for the ADA modifications if they wanted to continue to operate the bayfront mini-golf, themselves.
Burchfield suggested to the commission that they might want the property for another purpose; the only specifics offered were to convert it to a rental lot for weddings or to use it for 450th Commemoration events.
Even if the city demolishes the links, there is about $16,000 in costs associated with that option, plus the cost to install irrigation and to purchase and install new sod.
Any alternative to continuing the lease with Ripley — either for five years or for five years with a five-year option, means the immediate loss of $22,500 per year in guaranteed rental income.
After leaving the last meeting without a commitment, Ripley began a signature petition campaign supporting the continued use of the location as a miniature golf course. Ripley has offered to spend the $50,000 to make the course compliant, in addition to the rent, so that the bayfront tradition could continue into its 63rd year.