BCC to bail out Sailfish Splash, demolish old JB Library, okay $574K for 3 bathrooms at MC Golf

From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: The last meeting of the Martin County Board of County Commissioners during 2017 should be short and not-too-sweet on Tuesday as citizen-advocates and fiscal conservatives Sarah Heard and Ed Fielding face continued scrutiny while the Doug Smith-Ed Ciampi-Harold Jenkins majority doubles down on the type of conduct that has generated unprecedented distrust of local government.

The agenda features requests to 
– Transfer funds from the Halpatiokee park kayak center renovations budget to bail out financially ailing Sailfish Splash Waterpark;
– Approve a plat and revised site plan for the controversial Langford Landing property; and 
– Literally pave paradise and put up a parking lot.
Agenda Item 8A2 requests approval of a proposal to demolish the old Jensen Beach Library building to create a parking lot in the Jensen Beach Community Redevelopment Area.  Staff recommends Option #3 of five proposals for disposition of the County-owned building, ranging from selling it at the assessed value of $363,430.00 to renovating and repairing it at a cost of $260,190.00.  The option of demolishing the building and creating a parking lot was chosen by the Jensen Beach Neighborhood Advisory Committee to provided needed parking in downtown Jensen Beach at a modest cost of $87,150.00 to $98,500.00.
Agenda Item 8A1 includes a request to transfer $175,000 from Halpatiokee Regional Park to the Sailfish Splash Waterpark’s fixed asset replacement budget.  It should come as no surprise that equipment and facilities at the six-year-old waterpark are in need of repair or replacement.  What may be a surprise is that despite the touting of Sailfish Splash as a “success” by Commissioner Ed Ciampi and others who championed the project, the waterpark did not meet its budget projections during 2017 to fund the fixed asset replacement account.  Sailfish Splash was supposed to generate enough revenue from high-priced admission tickets and concession sales to pay for itself.  But staff blames Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, cold weather and thunderstorms for the budget shortfall and now wants to transfer money from Halpatiokee Regional Park that was supposed to pay for kayak center renovations.  The transferred funds will be used to repair tile in the aquatic center pool, replace motors in recirculation pumps, paint party rooms, replace the sound system and repair or improve other assets at Sailfish Splash.  
A request for approval of a plat and revised final site plan for the hugely unpopular Langford Landing project is Agenda Item 8C1.  The staff report recommends approval of the plat for the 60-home development and a revised site plan but doesn’t mention outstanding code enforcement fines that resulted from unauthorized clearing of the property which prompted complaints from citizens.  A settlement agreement was reached in secret meetings and discussions between the owner of the property and the County, but there is no indication that the property owner complied with the terms of the agreement. The revised final site plan is required to make the site plan consistent with work that was actually done on the property.  In other words, rather than requiring the developer to comply with the approved plan, staff is asking the commission to revise the plan to reflect what the developer did on the property that was not authorized under the approved plan.
In other items on Tuesday’s agenda:
– Agenda Item 8A3 asks the BCC to re-prioritize capital improvement projects that were slated to move forward with proceeds from the failed 1% sales tax.  A couple of fire stations and majority pet projects like the Jensen Beach Mooring Field will move forward while other projects would be delayed for reassessment in Fiscal Year 2019.
– Item No. 6 in Agenda Item 8A1 – Office of Management and Budget requests – seeks approval of a plan to build three restrooms for the Martin County Golf Course at a cost of $574,022.00 – more than many residents’ homes are worth, including homes with three bathrooms.
– A couple of re-zoning requests will be considered in Items 6A and 6B and final approval for an ordinance permitting community centers in residential districts is requested in Item 6C.
– At 2:30 p.m., the Board will hear a presentation from the Chief Financial Officer of Martin Health Systems about available resources for indigent County residents.
Download or view Tuesday’s agenda items at:
You can attend the BCC meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday at the Administration Center, 2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart, to express your views on these or other issues or e-mail commissioners at sheard@martin.fl.usefieldin@martin.fl.ushjenkins@martin.fl.useciampi@martin.fl.us, and dsmith@martin.fl.us, with copies to the County Administrator and the County Attorney at tkryzda@martin.fl.us and swoods@martin.fl.us.

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