Florida City Urged Not to Develop Site for RV Park

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November 8, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Citing consultant reports, Tarpon Springs, Fla., City Manager Mark LeCouris is strongly recommending the City Commission not pay $4.5 million to purchase the former Linger Longer Mobile Home Park.

City commissioners will discuss on Nov. 15 whether to put the property purchase question on the ballot, The Suncoast News reported.

LeCouris says the city should not formalize its tentative agreement to buy the land north of the Anclote River because of the cost of developing it. Financial uncertainties and the risk of operating a proposed recreational vehicle park and boat launch on the site are other reasons to reject the deal, according to the city manager.

"The city should not be getting into what private business should be doing," he said.

Taxpayers could be stuck with millions of dollars in debt if the project does not prove successful, he said.

There are just too many unknowns and uncertainties surrounding a project that could cost the city a total of more than $9 million once the cost of developing the park is added to the property's purchase price, LeCouris said.

Dealing with a former waste-water treatment plant on the land and a nearby petroleum storage facility are among possible environmental costs related to developing the Linger Longer property, according to LeCouris. As a result, a second, even more costly, environmental assessment of the site would be required, he said.

"I certainly can't recommend this additional expenditure at a further cost to taxpayers," he wrote in a report to the City Commission.

Citing current economic problems, buying the land and trying to develop it would not be "prudent," he advised

LeCouris said that in response to a request from Commissioner Susan Slattery he will have an estimate of the Linger Longer property's revenue-generating potential by the Nov. 15 meeting. Given the current economic climate, however, the estimate will only be conjecture, he said.

Slattery and other supporters of the project say it would provide a much-needed public boat ramp and preserve 20 acres of riverfront land as a city park.

According to consultant reports, the project would cost:

  • $4.55 million for the land purchase and closing expenses.
  • $1.516 million for construction of the boat ramp and defending against likely legal challenges.
  • $700,000 to develop a passive park on the site without the RV component.
  • $1.75 million for a 100-unit RV area; $3.5 million for 200 RVs.
  • $500,000 to $600,000 for each lighted ball field that might be built on the site.

Such expenditures would exhaust the city's share of Penny for Pinellas revenue for a decade and rule out other major capital expenditures, according to LeCouris.

In addition, creating the boat ramp might require "substantial dredging," LeCouris noted in his memo to commissioners. This likely would result in a lengthy court challenge, he predicted.

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