Access to FL Intracoastal Waterway Protected
St. Johns County, FL, 4/25/05 – A 34-acre property on the Intracoastal Waterway has been purchased by the national nonprofit Trust for Public Land (TPL), it was announced today. The transaction was completed Friday afternoon with property owner Harbor Oaks Development Corporation.
The property had been approved for more than 190 condominiums in 45-foot high buildings. Purchase by the Trust for Public Land takes the property off the market until St. Johns County can buy it with help from state grant funds. The county has been approved for matching funds from the Florida Communities Trust (FCT) state grant program.
“The shores of the Intracoastal Waterway are being developed so rapidly in St. Johns County,” said Susan Grandin, director of the Trust for Public Land’s Northeast Florida Office in Jacksonville. “The St. Augustine Shores community and beyond really wanted to maintain this access point to the water, and the ancient live oaks provide a beautiful park-like setting.”
Grandin said the 34-acre property is one of the last of that size left undeveloped on the Intracoastal’s west bank.
“I’m happy to have been part of a group that has made sure that a small portion of historical Florida waterfront property is now preserved for our great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren,” said Ben Rich, St. Johns County Commissioner.
“We looked at these big beautiful oak trees and the fact that it’s right on the Intracoastal, and wanted to save a little bit of original Florida,” said Barrie Higgins, president of the St. Augustine Shores Civic Association. She said the property contains evidence of a prehistoric Indian settlement.
Roger Van Ghent, a local representative of Florida Audubon and member of the county’s Land Acquisition & Management Program advisory board, said the community has been working to preserve the site from development for at least four years.
“This is an example of a community park that has great environmental and passive recreation potential. The community really got behind it – the community 100 percent wanted a park,” said Van Ghent. “This is a beautiful stand of oak and hardwoods. It has an unusually dense canopy, and there are very few places in Florida left like that. Some of the trees are really large – 60 to 70 inches in diameter at breast height.”
Purchase price for the property was $8.8 million. $6.6 million will come from the FCT program, with the county paying the remaining $2.2 million. TPL will hold the property until state funds become available in a few months.
“This is a great example of how local funds can leverage state dollars,” said Grandin.
She pointed out that FCT is funded through the statewide documentary stamp tax that is collected when real estate is bought or sold.
“So taxes collected in St. Johns County will come back to buy property here,” she said.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 46 states. In Florida, TPL has protected more than 300 sites – over 200,000 acres at a market value of about $500 million. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please contact us at 850-222-7911 or visit us on the web at www.tpl.org.