BELLEAIR — Arrow heads and native American artifacts found on the Belleair Country Club property has club owners and city officials wondering what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will say about the planned renovation of the facility’s west course.
In July, the commission approved a 30-year lease for the country club that will bring in more than $1 million to the city, including an upfront payment of $350,000 from the club, which wants to create a new hole overlooking Clearwater Bay that one member says will compare to Pebble Beach’s No. 7.
Noting that work has yet to start on the new hole and renovation project next to the bay, club attorney David Phillips told city commissioners Dec 15 he’s waiting for the Army Corps to conduct its archaeological study of the property. He characterized the arrowheads and subsequent Corps of Engineers study as a “curveball” thrown at the project in the final weeks of permitting.
“No ground has been broken, permits have not been issued, permits have not been approved, but since they have jurisdiction over this project, they have ordered an archaeological study performed,” said Phillips, of Phillips, Hayden & Labbee, LLP, which represents Belleair Country Club and its discussions with the city on the west course renovation.
He is awaiting the Army Corp’s formal report on the archeological study, which entails some digging, checking historical records, and other research in the next few weeks. The commission gave the club until Jan. 7 to receive, review, and analyze the Army Corps report.
Phillips told Tampa Bay Newspapers that he expects the project to move forward.
“The indications we are getting they have found some Indian arrow heads, some native American artifacts, but nothing that indicates burial grounds or other areas of concern,” he said. “We are waiting to see that in writing. Everything is lining up to be a positive.”
There is still time for the club to back out of the lease agreement and receive the initial $350,000 back from the city, Town Manager J.P. Murphy told the commission. However, both the town and the club want this lease and project, Phillips said.