Thursday, June 02, 2016

Good Record Editorial on Robin Nadeau Park in St. Augustine Beach

Good editorial in The St. Augustine Record June 3, 2016 about the suggestion of Thomas F. Reynolds, Jr. to use the former AMCD HQ for a park.

Let's make this happen, and please let's call it "Robin Nadeau Park."

But let's not be so quick to tearing down the historic buildings and offices, including classroom, laboratories and historic meeting room (site of epic battles halting illegal purchase of $1.8 million luxury jet helicopter suitable for Donald Trump, incapable of killing a single skeeter), as well as large classroom, laboratory, storage and garage buildings.

Don't demolish historic buildings built by AMCD staff, when they could have a new life through adaptive re-use.

These structures could become integral parts of Robin Nadeau Park, used for indoor activities --- a small science, natural history and civil rights museum, indoor basketball courts, public meeting rooms, non-profit and public interest group offices, analysis laboratories for the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve and St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore.

What do you reckon?

Editorial: Of mosquito lan[d] and mutual aid
Posted: June 3, 2016 - 12:08am

At the St. Augustine Beach City Commission meeting Wednesday night, the subject of the former Anastasia Mosquito Control District (AMCD) property came up. The gist was that the land would make a dandy city park. And there’s no question about that.

The AMCD has recently vacated the property, moving into its new facilities off EOC Drive, north of St. Augustine. The former site is a pretty one. It is 2.6 acres of prime real estate, bordered by Pope Road on the south, Santander on the east and old Beach Road to the west. It is not, however within the Beach city limits that begin just across Pope Road — the cutoff boundary between St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach.

But St. Augustine doesn’t own it either. It was conveyed to the independent mosquito district back in 1972 by St. Augustine for the price of $10. The AMCD holds the deed.

When it made plans to build its new facility, part of it was always that the old property would be sold to offset the cost of the new digs. Why that process hasn’t begun already is a fair question. Vice-chair Vivian Browning, stipulating that she was speaking only for herself and not other board members, says she’s all for getting rid of the land. “It’s an asset when you’re using it, but it’s a liability when you don’t” she said. We suspect the other members are on board with letting the property go.

The issue brings up some interesting scenarios and some financial realities.

The property would be an amazing addition as a park/recreation area. The grounds — other than the buildings — haven’t been touched in 45 years, which means they haven’t been touched. It’s right across the road from the beautiful Ron Parker Park — a jewel within the Beach city limits, but owned and maintained by St. Johns County.

The Beach made an inquiry years back into annexing the AMCD property. It can do that because the property is contiguous with its own. There was no interest then. There might be now. But it’s unlikely the Beach could afford the tab right now. It’s in hock for years for a farsighted purchase of the last of existing beachfront there, Ocean Hammock Park, in 2015 for $4.5 million.

If the AMCD land is sold to an individual, the land returns to St. Augustine.

Now, this is strictly spit-balling the issue with a big “what-if.” The boundaries of the property leave a door ajar for a plausible cost-share deal that could keep the land out of development claws. Call us optimists, but ...

■ St. Augustine Beach has already shown an interest an and lives right next door.

■ St. Augustine is likely to get it back.

■ One of the St. Johns County’s prettiest parks is directly adjacent.

■ And, if you look closely at the pertinent maps, the state of Florida owns land that abuts it. The southern terminus of Anastasia State Park forms its border to the east — just across Santander Street.

Counting the AMCD land itself, there are five independent governmental entities literally kissing at that intersection. It may be that between them all, and with the resources and good intentions of them all, a mutual aid plan could be negotiated to save this rare slice of maritime hammock. With the old building removed, it could be allowed to regain its former, more ecologically Bohemian, self — and become something of which all these entities could be proud.

You don’t know until you ask. And we believe it’s a question worth asking as the process unfolds.

The AMCD meets June 9 with the land sale question on the agenda. Don’t close the door either way just yet.

Maybe some multi-municipally-minded citizens could pick up the ball. You fund every one of these agencies with your tax money.

You have a say. What do you say?

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