SRC School Board to Consider Purchase of City Property

Posted on February 26, 2020 by Kristin Compton

The Gulf Breeze City Council approved a sale agreement to be presented to the Santa Rosa County School Board in consideration for the purchase and sale of 45+/- acres of city-owned property situated out at Tiger Point.

The subject land was previously part of the Tiger Point west 18-hole golf course. But in 2004, Hurricane Ivan ripped through the region devastating the course and leaving it vulnerable to investors that might not have the area residents’ best interests at heart.

The City, therefore, purchased the property in 2012 with FEMA and other funding sources, and rehabilitated the land into what it is today. And the City’s reclaimed water needs in its’ southern region have become central to the property’s continued benefit, thereby inhibiting prior discussions regarding its’ subsequent sale.  

But the current agreement on the table between the City and the School Board includes provisions for easements, including an effluent disposal easement to allow the City to continue to use the property for the recapture of 253,000 gallons of effluent per day. The sale of this property to any other buyer or entity would likely result in the loss of this benefit to the City and surrounding ball fields and other outdoor recreational areas at Tiger Point in need of reclaimed water for irrigation at a reduced cost.

While the School Board’s proposal of $1.9 million for the purchase of the land came in far below the previously appraised value of the property at $3.6 million, the county agreed to pay an additional fee in lieu of having to manage the effluent. This is where the approximate 10-acre easement comes into play as a part of the terms and conditions of the purchase and sale, so the City can continue to largely take care of the irrigation and reclaimed water needs at Tiger Point.

Additionally, the City is aware that a neighborhood school will only serve to boost residential property values at Tiger Point rather than diminish the worth of the coveted location.

The South Santa Rosa Utility Board first discussed and unanimously recommended this deal in October 2018. The city council voted, again unanimously, on February 18 to move forward with presenting a sale agreement to the School Board.

Should the county accept the proposed agreement, City Manager Samantha Abell likened the ensuing arrangement to a “true partnership” between the City and the School Board.

Other agenda items approved at the February 18 regular city council meeting included a police department redesign that would do away with holding cells, and a solid waste increase of 2.12 percent.

Citizens were assured that, even without a convenient place to hold them following arrest, juveniles would not be shipped to Milton if apprehended within the City of Gulf Breeze, unless they were found to be uncooperative.

An approximate $400,000 budget has been set aside in the Capital Expenditure budget category to carry out this project.

Lastly, residents were given an estimate of only a 0.56 cent increase for the average customer on their solid waste bills. The increase was said to be imposed not to boost revenues but instead, to pass on the increase that is already being applied to public services per the southern region urban price index.

City staff also approved the increase.