County commission considering purchase of ‘R Beach’ property

Lisa Savarese spoke to commissioners at the January 25, 2022 BOCC meeting about the county’s plans to buy the property that once housed the R Beach restaurant. The issue was discussed during Citizens’ Comments and Council’s responses were given later.

Savarese distributed copies of a detailed officer’s report to commissioners and County Administrator Jeff Rogers. Hinting that the report contains details of an ongoing contract, Savarese asked Rogers if his name was on the contract.

“What is the real reason to consider buying a commercial property that has been on sale for over a year for $865,000? Additional car park? Should the Weekiwachee Reserve be developed? Savarese asked if the 60 parking spaces on the property were intended for parking in the reserve. She added that if that’s 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 indicated in a previous meeting that the increase would generate nearly 13, $9 million if voters approved it.

Rogers responded that a pending contract had been assembled by the county realtor under his direction with the intention of taking the matter to the board for final approval in February. Other contracts are accepted for the property.

“I made these decisions based on past direction from the Board of Directors to consider multiple directions for projects on Hernando Beach.” Rogers spoke about the previously approved parkway project that will connect the reserve to area parks. Such an addition to the area will potentially bring in more visitors.

“SWFWMD (Southwest Florida Water Management District) and Citizens stated in writing that [the] the biggest problem is parking. I don’t know how you are [visit the preserve] without having public access parking at these locations. As for costs, Rogers said it would be less expensive to buy a parking lot than to build one.

Aurora J. William