Seminole Welcome Center Delayed
By ANNE LINDBERG, TB Reporter
The proposed welcome center, which would also house the Chamber of Commerce, has gotten caught in governmental red tape.
SEMINOLE – A proposal to build a welcome center and Chamber of Commerce building at this city’s new waterfront park has been delayed by a bureaucratic rule.
The tangle doesn’t mean that Seminole won’t be able to build the center on the property, 10400 Park Blvd. The city has to meet certain state and federal requirements. To do that in this situation, the city will have to buy another parcel of land that would be set aside as recreational space. If the state and feds approve of the property, then Seminole can go ahead and build the welcome center/chamber on the waterfront park land.
“I asked them, ‘How long will this take?'” City Manager Ann Toney-Deal told council members at Tuesday’s (June 27) meeting. “The answer was it could take three months; it could take six months; it could take nine months, it could take 12 months. … They really didn’t pin down the time.”
By a 4-2 vote, council members gave Toney-Deal the go ahead to start the process, called a “conversion.” Council member Roger Edelman abstained from voting because of a possible conflict of interest. Edelman is the chamber president. The process will not hamper construction on the remainder of the property.
Seminole bought the waterfront park acreage, which is next to the Home Depot and across from Lake Seminole, about five years ago for about $700,000. The idea was to use the property as a kayak launch and mostly passive park, meaning there would be few, if any, amenities.
The city won a $200,000 grant through a federal program that’s administered by the state, to help buy the land. The grant, however, was specific – the land had to be used only for recreational purposes. That allowed the city to develop plans for a more comprehensive park and recreational area that will eventually have, among other things, a kayak launch and equipment that can also be used by disabled park goers.
Then, the city received a $500,000 gift from Dr. Edward Lurie to construct a building to be used as a Chamber of Commerce on the site. That, said the state, would be a violation of the grant because the building, which will be about the size of a doublewide mobile home, will be have offices. And offices are not recreational.
Toney-Deal said the city offered to pay back the $200,000 but the state refused. That left the city with few options: Don’t build a welcome center/chamber at all. Build it elsewhere if Lurie would agree. Or undergo the conversion process.
Under that process, the city will buy a piece of land that’s at least the size and value of the property that will be taken up by the welcome center and that meets the approval of the state. The city agrees to limit the use of that new property to recreation. Then, the state will give permission to build the welcome center on the waterfront park land.
For information about the city of Seminole, go to myseminole.com.
Photos of Seminole Waterfront park property by Anne Lindberg, TB Reporter
Seminole | Waterfront Park | Seminole Chamber of Commerce | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter
#Seminole #WaterfrontPark #SeminoleChamberofCommerce #TampaBayNews #TBReporter