Lisa Savarese addressed commissioners at the January 25, 2022 BOCC meeting about the county’s plans to purchase the property that was once home to the R Beach restaurant. The matter was discussed during Citizen’s Comments and responses by the board were given later.
Savarese distributed copies of an Agent Detail Report to the commissioners, and County Administrator Jeff Rogers. Alluding to the fact that the report contains details of a pending contract, Savarese asked Rogers if his name was on the contract.
“What is the real reason to consider purchasing commercial property that has been for sale for over a year at a price of $865,000? Extra parking? Should the Weekiwachee Preserve be developed? Savarese questioned if the 60 parking spaces on the property were planned for parking at the preserve. She added that if that is indeed the plan, each space would cost $14,000.
She then asked if the funding would come from the potential half-cent sales tax increase that would take effect in January 2023. Rogers reported during a previous meeting that the increase would generate nearly $13.9 million should voters approve it.
Rogers responded that a pending contract was assembled by the county’s realtor at his direction with the intention of bringing the matter before the board for final approval in February. Other contracts are being accepted for the property.
“I made those decisions based on past direction from the board to look at multiple directions for projects on Hernando Beach.” Rogers talked about the previously approved boardwalk project that will link the preserve with area parks. Such an addition to the area will potentially result in more visitors.
“SWFWMD (Southwest Florida Water Management District) and citizens have said in writing that [the] biggest issue is parking. I don’t know how you’re going to [visit the preserve] without having public access parking to those locations.” With regard to cost, Rogers said that it will be cheaper to buy a parking lot, rather than build one.