City Manager gives update on Ironwood plans

City Manager Cynthia Curry updates the Gainesville City Commission on plans for the Ironwood Golf Course


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – At the June 15 Gainesville City Commission meeting, City Manager Cynthia Curry told the commission that she has placed the City’s Ironwood Golf Course and another unnamed department on “management watch.”

Curry said, “What ‘management watch’ means is that there are concerns that have been identified in that department. They could be problematic or not–it could be management, operational, it could be financial, infrastructure, all of that. But what we do is we sit with the department, outline what the issues and problems are, outline a timeline to try to have them resolved, bring in the expertise that we need to help internal staff do the analysis and review, and then come back to the commission with recommendations.”

Curry said her staff would probably come back to the commission in early January with their recommendation “for how we proceed in fiscal 2025 before we put a budget before the commission.”

Mayor Harvey Ward said, “There are lots of avenues available to us. Nobody up here does not think that there is some community value–not dollar value, but community value–in a municipal golf course that provides many things to our community. We’re all very well aware of that.” Although the City Manager recommended closing Ironwood in a budget workshop on May 25 and several commissioners said they supported selling the golf course, Ward said some media outlets “got a little bit ahead of themselves with some headlines” and added, “We are clearly not going to talk about selling a golf course today.”

Commissioner Ed Book advocated for a modest increase in fees to make Ironwood more financially viable. He said that usage of the golf course and event venue in the next year would affect the decision to keep it open in future years. Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut encouraged members of the public to share ideas for increasing revenue at the golf course.

Members of the public spoke in favor of continued operation of the course, pointing out all of the nonprofit fundraisers that are held there every year, the programs for young golfers, usage of the course by local high school golf teams, and benefits to nearby businesses. Given that people play about 40k-45k rounds of golf per year at Ironwood, several people suggested that increasing fees by $5 per found could generate an extra $200,000, which would allow the course to break even or make a small profit.

Commissioner Casey Willits said he wanted the public to know that “the [Joint Legislative Audit Committee] said, ‘We want Gainesville to feel pain.’ And when they said they want us to feel pain, they didn’t mean generically the City, they mean every single citizen, every single resident of our city… And if this feels painful, there’s a reason.”

Commissioner Bryan Eastman said, “This is what community advocacy looks like. You guys reached out to us, the City government listened to you, and Ironwood is staying open.” He asked supporters of Ironwood to bring friends to play golf and “grab drinks, grab food there.”

Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker said she was concerned about keeping Ironwood affordable: “I think we’ve seen in programs throughout this country, when you involve at-risk groups, that they, too, enjoy it, benefit from it.” She asked the City Manager to balance the cuts they need to make with “the asset in terms of what it’s providing.”

Ward said he wanted to see data about who is using Ironwood when it comes time to make a decision: “Are they Gainesville residents, or are they near-Gainesville residents? Because frankly, people who live in Gainesville are already paying more for the course than folks who live outside the city are.” He said the course clearly has value to the people who spoke at the meeting, but “I will remind you, though, there are 145,000 people in the community and about a dozen who spoke… I’m not looking for extra people to come out; we’re looking for actual numbers, not here but at the course.”

  • Hell raise the rates to play golf just like you do with GRU then take the money from it same principle

  • Ironwood is unfortunately a money pit, poorly managed like everything else the city runs. I love how in the midst of a financial crisis the commissioners are trying to figure out how to involve “at-risk” youth in golf. Perhaps a “Peaceful Sundays” golf tournament is in order soon.

    • The so called “at risk” teens would love to play but they might misinterpret what shooting a low score means. They can check the car doors in the parking lot for unsecured guns while they’re at it too.

  • Have any of the Commissioners played golf at Ironwood? When did any of the Commissioners buy lunch (without tax payer money) at Ironwood? Have any of the Commissioners rented space at Ironwood for their own personal events?


  • They should have approved those new development plans a few years before Covid and GRU woes. The excuse for not doing so was “airport noise concerns”. But today’s hurricane windows are so well insulated it might have been a moot issue.
    It’s still not too late. Florida is being inundated with new residents. Do the ones coming to Alachua county have to ALL go to the westside?

  • leftist consider golf a white elitist sport therefore they despise it.

  • Well ,Rookie Willits, welcome to reality where Gainesville has run the cash cow into the ground. Hopefully the Commision can begin to do the job like a lot of other surrounding municipalities do and run the City like a viable , comservative business. Taxes are our money , not yours to recklessly spend on agenda’s and what if’s.
    Enjoy you paycut and begin to make things less painful to the taxpayers and GRU customers . Finally , just maybe , the Commission realizes its not all about them. GRU rates will be lowered without the City Commisson being able abuse the GRU Customers with no access to the funds GRU owns and now you don’t . If the Gainesville House of Pain is felt by the Commsioners and the voters that love wokeness , control freaks and unacccountability , that means the majority will begin to get some relief for a change.

  • The whole city should be on management watch… oops, they already are! And the clock is ticking from the state.

    So over this lady and her made up terms that really point to a larger issue: she and her bosses are clueless! They’re only good at making up words to cover up poor decision-making. General services contribution, neighbors, special advisors, all nonsense!

  • Talk about a money pit! Ever since the city bought that disaster back in the late 80’s I believe, they (commission) have thrown millions of dollars into it for various repairs and remodel.
    The return on investment is a joke. Running in the red every year, yet they haven’t the fiscal sense to sell it.
    Ya’ll voted for those goofballs, deal with em.

  • City manager? You mean chief delegator. She is worthless.
    Take that feckless Willets with you!
    This town is in the dumpster.
    Cmon State, clear out this mess!

  • Curry has carte blanche from both Poe and Ward but now says; “…what we do is we sit with the department, outline what the issues and problems are, outline a timeline to try to have them resolved, bring in the expertise that we need to help internal staff do the analysis and review, and then come back to the commission with recommendations.” That didn’t happen when she moved former police Chief Tony Jones to desk duty or when she fired 3 department heads to appoint people more aligned with her agenda. This city government can’t keep the lies and deflection out of their jobs and conversations even when they are under “management watch” from the state. Willits and Eastman should be recalled. Stupid is as stupid does.

  • Willits, the pain they want “Gainesville” to feel is the pain those behind the dais should feel of actually running a fiscally sound City because you/they have inflicted enough pain on the citizens of Gainesville. And to Harvey Wadd, the people who live outside Gainesville are already paying more for GRU services if they are not in the incorporated City. How does it feel to get the same treatment you and your ilk have been dishing out for decades?

  • Idea, buy a 98 cent For Sale sign at Home Depot and put in front yard.

  • I trust she read her statement. No one could make up that much b.s. at one time.

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