County opposes state plan to buy more land

GLADES COUNTY — Glades County Commissioners stood with other communities south of Lake Okeechobee Feb. 27 when they approved a resolution to oppose any additional purchases of private land by the state.

Bills are being considered in Tallahassee to purchase 60,000 acres to try and help prevent damages by releases from Lake Okeechobee.

The resolution stated Glades County was opposed to any actions that do not provide solutions to Lake releases going into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers.

Commissioners support the use of land already owned by the state.

“What we oppose is the purchase of new land,” Commissioner Donna Storter-Long said. Commissioner Weston Pryor suggested the resolution on Feb. 14. He said agriculture would be devastated with this loss of acreage. The resolution was approved 5-0.

In other business, the county commissioners approved work on the Ortona Indian Mound Park. For some time the boardwalk has been impassable for pedestrians. Signage and benches have disappeared. A Florida Lands grant is available to spruce up the park for $89,000. The local match is $40,000.

County Manager Paul Carlisle said the park is an important part of the heritage of Glades County.

“I just think it’s important we get that park back, it is just beautiful,” he added.

The plan could promote nature based tourism. The commissioners decided to sell the former Glades Inn property. A motel/hotel, restaurant, grocery store, or professional offices were among the uses the county zoning allows. Commissioners had to determine whether they wanted to limit the uses and thus the value of and interest in the property.

Mr. Carlisle said a motel/hotel appears to be a possible use. He noted there has been interest from the private sector.

Commissioner Tim Stanley said he would support a reduction in sale price if a ‘full-fledged’ grocery store were proposed.

“A grocery store is my top priority,” he added. Carlisle said the actual negotiations with proposed buyers would occur at the staff level and not a public meeting.

Commissioners discussed the possible offer of tax breaks for the buyer.

The commission does not have to sell the property to the highest bidder. The main goal, Mr. Carlisle explained, was to find the project that is in the best interest of the community.

Demolition crews cleared the former motel in weeks leaving barely a trace of the old structure and pool at 1100 South US 27. The applicant must provide a floor plan, site plan and proposed use for the property.

The county wants to advertise the property soon. Ten thousand dollars will be spent to remove nuisance and exotic plants at the county business park. Applied Aquatics won the contract and will spray the property four times in the next year. The County will advertise for a weekend parks attendant for cleaning restrooms.

An amount of $14,375 was transferred from parks and recreation to pay for the service. There are 432 inmates currently at the county jail.

Sheriff David Harden said 25 positions are available in the jail division. Ten of these are civilian positions.

Glades County is considering a health clinic for county employees.

The Love’s Travel Center grand opening and ribbon cutting is March 30 at 9 a.m.
The city of Moore Haven agreed to demolish the Lundy Building and will use the firm that demolished the Glades Inn.

Stanley said the cell phone tower in Buckhead Ridge could be operational in March.
The Ortona Community Association will host an ice cream social on March 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Special to Glades County Democrat

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