One of the main selling points in a Sarasota County proposal to move a downtown bus station was moving prime land into the private sector. That may be more difficult than originally anticipated.
"Certainly, if the county is thinking of moving the bus station, I want the property back" said Sarasota City Commissioner Susan Chapman during a regular meeting Monday.
Commissioners directed staff to pen a letter to the county expressing an intent to buy the land if plans continue to move the downtown Sarasota County Area Transit hub. SCAT originally bought the land from the city for $478,000 in 2002 for the transfer station, with a clause giving the city “the right to acquire the property in the event the (county) desires to sell the property,” according to the contract for sale and purchase.
Legal staff from both municipalities are reviewing the contract to determine its implications on current plans for the SCAT station.
Downtown Improvement District Chairman Ernie Ritz led the charge from the private sector earlier this year to consider moving the transfer station, while downtown advocate and Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta brought the idea to the county.
“You look around the city and you start seeing all of this non income-producing property owned by the county or the city,” Ritz said in a previous interview with the Sarasota Observer. “My idea was to start selling off some of the property that they own that’s not income-producing.”
The land, located at the intersection of First Street and North Lemon Avenue, is currently worth $1.1 million, according to the Sarasota County Property Appraiser.
Supporters of the relocation want the station moved from First Street to a surface parking lot at Ringling Boulevard and School Avenue, a site considered before construction of the current station.
“If we can put that parcel on the market or give an opportunity for a developer to come in, I think it would be really good,” Barbetta said.
But, City Commissioner Shannon Snyder, who put the SCAT item on Monday’s agenda, said the parcel is likely too small for an economically viable development, and anticipated a potential buyer asking to “move City Hall,” or relocate the adjacent city parking lot if it moves into private hands.
“I think you’d rather be driving the bus than under the bus, so to speak,” Snyder said to fellow commissioners.
New opponents to the county proposal to relocate the downtown transfer station east of Washington Boulevard emerged Monday, at the City Commission meeting — skateboarders.
Payne Skate Park Manager Mike Walling said during the meeting when he took the position more than three years ago, vagrant activity plagued the concrete skate haven. Stakeholders at that time complained of drug dealing and vandalism.
“There were homeless sleeping in our bowls — they were using our bowls as toilets,” Walling said. But, after internal work and “hundreds of calls” to the Sarasota Police Department, the park has become a safe place for skaters of all ages.
Walling said he is afraid that placing the transfer station on School Avenue “is going to bring the homeless population back on my doorstep, basically undoing all the work I've done over the last couple of years.”
For more information on the SCAT transfer station proposal see previous articles:
Currently 1 Response
- SCAT should stay where it is. People of modest means need to get to work in the center of the town. The proposed SCAT move creats a hardship. I don't see that many more busses that will obsolete this location. In fact I see a need for smaller busses. These are almost empty too often.
I suspect that the Bu of Commerse and others who want to grow Sarasota into another Miami , Tampa, or Naples push and influenze to get what they want.
How about something with benifits to many. Large busses create traffic bottlenecks every time they pick up or drop off passengers at the many primative bus stops. Creat bust stop aprons that would allow safe passenger exits/entrance without blocking vital road lanes.
Regarding the homeless I say quite screwing around. Just take care of them...shelter, food, education. Oh, and don't polarize the homeless. Homeless Veterns are simply homeless treat them thev same as others...except get the VA to delineate their right to earned VA benefits.
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