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Tarpon driving range coming back to life

Published:   |   Updated: May 16, 2013 at 07:56 PM

After sitting dormant along southbound U.S. 19 for roughly three years, the former Tarpon Springs Driving Range will swing back into business later this fall with a new name and slightly different feel.

Along with operating a standard driving range for area golfers, DeRanged Golf is hoping to attract an ever broader variety of customers.

According to a written statement from the company, "The concept is to build a place that is not just about golf."

The facility is permitted to serve beer and wine and has plans for an indoor seating area and a covered outdoor bar patio as the new owners renovate the existing clubhouse.

"For the most part its operation is targeted as a driving range for adults," DeRanged Golf Entertainment President Ben Milstien said to city commissioners Tuesday night in describing the business's target – but not only – demographic.

DeRanged Golf took over the property abutting Pasco County's southern border at 44098 U.S. 19 N. July 1 and has been renovating the overgrown site ever since.

Sitting vacant for three years took its toll on the property, Milstien said after Tuesday's meeting. Tarpon Springs Driving Range operated on the site from 1996 until 2009.

Resurfacing of the 42-spot parking lot and sidewalks has been necessary and new nets to contain range balls were needed in addition to landscaping and renovating the clubhouse.

Commissioners unanimously passed the resolution approving DeRanged Golf's future plans after asking a couple brief questions about food service and the property's existing batting cages.

Milstien said both may be made available in the future, but as of right now the batting cages are inoperable and there is no food menu.

As of Tuesday, Milstien said, the driving range is planning a soft opening for Oct. 1 and a grand opening on Nov. 3. Once open, the facility will operate seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Also on Tuesday's agenda, commissioners discussed and passed on first reading an ordinance creating a city land preservation fund.

The issue returned to commissioners' attention for the first time since late July. After Tuesday's approval, the second and final reading is scheduled for Oct. 12.

According to the ordinance, the fund is being established "for the purposes of acquiring land located in Tarpon Springs that is environmentally valuable or sensitive or land that's suitable for park, recreational, open-space and conservation purposes."

Since the draft was presented in July, certain changes were made regarding how the initiative would be funded. Initial discussions suggested the city would contribute $10,000 a year to the fund and then split land-sale proceeds 50-50 between the fund and city coffers.

Altering that agreement, commissioners decided for a 70-30 split of sale proceeds, with 70 percent going to the land fund. That 70 percent is to be capped at $100,000 per sale.

Commissioners also agreed that the city's $10,000 annual contribution be discussed each budget season. The city does not have seed money for the fund budget for this year, City Manager Mark LeCouris said. or (727) 815-1071