RECORD EDITORIAL | Careful what we wish for – St. Augustine Record

Posted: October 20, 2019 at 9:38 am

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It was Zig Ziglar who quipped, Be careful not to compromise what you want most for what you want now.

Thats how we see the Salt Run youth sailing program deal now before the City of St. Augustine and the adjoining neighborhood.

To recap, University of St. Augustine founder Stanley Paris has offered up a prime piece of waterfront property to the City of St. Augustine for free sort of.

His one stipulation is the property be dedicated to expanding a youth sailing school on the site. The early wish list for the property includes a dock, classrooms and a boat maintenance building.

The city accepted the deed Monday night, amid plenty of support from yacht club members, and plenty of push-back from neighbors. Their point is one weve come to seen, but primarily residential property being up-zoned as commercial, with neighborhoods placed in peril. We get it.

But, from where we sit, this ones significantly different from the ugly norm.

Lets look at some facts. While the city has accepted the deed, it conveys nothing to the yacht club in terms of the size, design or scope of the sailing school nothing.

The first step for the City is negotiating a lease with the yacht club. And much of both the devil and the detail will emerge during that process. Mayor Tracy Upchurch, to his credit, counseled commissioners to make the process transparent. No part of any subsequent lease will be OKd by the commission other than in public meetings.

The City is also smart in insisting any application go before Planning and Zoning Board for a regular rezoning process which is no cakewalk. And all PZB meetings and all its subsequent recommendations are open to public input. We say recommendations because that is what its end- game in the process becomes. Those recommendations go back to the commissioners who will decide the merits of the deal in more public meetings.

The deal does have an important caveat that, should whatever project takes root on that land strays from being a youth-oriented sailing school, it reverts back to the City as a passive park. If not that, back to the family (heirs who may, at that time, have plans of their own, not so passive).

For his part, Paris is donating the land worth about $1 million. Hes adding another $200,000 to help the yacht club out of the gate. He has also pledged proceeds from another residential lot (sold as residential) he owns nearby perhaps $250,000-plus.

Thats a substantial gimme to St. Augustine and its people. And we thank the salty solo-sailor for the gift and potential legacy.

Well talk later about exactly what the sailing school represents, but need not jump the gun here again because a lease has not been written, rejected or approved.

But in terms of neighbors concerns at this point, theyre irked theyre surrounded by, lets see youth ballfields, a youth skate park, an historic and beautiful Lighthouse and light keepers property, a fishing pier, the prettiest piece of brackish water in the county in Salt Run, a public boat ramp (which will benefit in terms of traffic by moving parking north) and other cultural amenities, not the least of which is lovely and historic Lighthouse Park. Oh yeah, throw in Anastasia State Park.

The neighborhood is buffered by recreational and historical spiffs that would be the envy of any other. If you dont believe it, look how hard new developments scramble to carve out a baseball diamond or soccer field, and generally pay through the nose, or county tax dollars, to get them and often to maintain them.

Take a drive to the northern part of the county where neighborhoods are pigeon-holed between Buc-ees and Wawa gas stations, office complexes and industrial parks.

Now look around at the Never-Never land embracing the Salt Run neighbors.

Seriously, who wouldnt want to live there?


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RECORD EDITORIAL | Careful what we wish for - St. Augustine Record

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October 20th, 2019 at 9:38 am

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