Friday, June 22, 2018

Land dispute may halt Lakeland university building

TALLAHASSEE — A dispute over the transfer of donated land could halt the ongoing construction of a campus for Florida's newest state university in Lakeland.

The chairman of a Board of Governors committee overseeing the birth of Florida Polytechnic University said Friday that he will ask the board to stop the project if the matter is not resolved before its next regular meeting June 19-21 in Orlando. Construction of the first building, expected to cost $100 million, already has begun.

The Williams Acquisition Holding Co. donated land to the University of South Florida for its polytechnic branch in 2006. The Legislature passed a law this year stripping the Lakeland campus from USF and immediately creating the state's 12th public university to take its place.

The question that could complicate construction arises from a clause in the agreement to give Florida Polytechnic title to the land.

Williams included a reverter clause saying the property would return to the company if the state ever used it for a nonuniversity purpose.

"We should not build this building with that kind of reverter," said board member Morteza "Mori" Hosseini, who chairs the panel's Select Committee on Florida Polytechnic University.

Hosseini said he wants to see what Gov. Rick Scott thinks about the matter and asked State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan and the board's attorney to look into it.

Board chairman Dean Colson told Hosseini his instincts were right.

"We can't put a $100 million building on property that has a reverter clause in it," Colson said.

Stephen Mitchell, a Tampa real estate lawyer who serves on USF's Board of Trustees, said Williams has agreed to the donation transfer but has insisted on the reverter clause. The original donation to USF had a similar clause. It subsequently was removed, but Williams now wants it restored, Mitchell said. The holding company is a subsidiary of the Williams Companies Inc., a Tulsa, Okla., energy firm.

Mitchell did not dispute Hoesseini's criticism, but said Williams agreed to the transfer only after extensive negotiations.

The board, meanwhile, passed several items recommended by Hosseini's committee to facilitate the new school's takeover of the campus and other issues related to the transfer. That included authorization for USF to continue managing the construction project until Florida Polytechnic is able to take over.

The board and Scott are in the processes of appointing trustees for the new school, which doesn't yet have a president, staff, faculty or students.

Comments
Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Here’s an intriguing set of facts: Coal produces the same percentage of the world’s electricity as 20 years ago. Oil and gas remain about level, too.Same for nonfossil fuel sources. In other words, the massive push towards renewables over the past co...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Democrat, two Republicans vie for House seat Jake Raburn is leaving

Democrat, two Republicans vie for House seat Jake Raburn is leaving

The race for the District 57 state House seat, where Republican Rep. Jake Raburn has announced his retirement, will include one uncontested Democrat and a two-way Republican primary.On the Republican side, Riverview lawyer Michael Beltran faces Sean ...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
No easy ride for three Hillsborough commissioners up for election

No easy ride for three Hillsborough commissioners up for election

TAMPA – All three Hillsborough County commissioners seeking to stay in office will face election battles  this year.The contest for District 4 will be between incumbent Republican Stacy White and Democrat Andrew Davis, who runs an onl...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Rick Scott announces potential high-speed rail linking Tampa and Orlando

Rick Scott announces potential high-speed rail linking Tampa and Orlando

State officials are taking bids for a new high-speed rail project between Tampa and Orlando, resuming hopes for a line connecting the two cities, Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday.Scott said an unnamed company has offered to pay for and...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

TAMPA — De’Nico Thomas, 14, isn’t a bad kid, police say, but he was the victim of a terrible shooting. The boy had played video games with a friend on Wednesday night and was likely bicycling home, according to police, when someone fired a gun, criti...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

A cancer lurks within Florida’s otherwise rosy job numbers, one that’s been called a quiet catastrophe and an intractable time bomb.Too many men between the ages of 25 and 54 have stopped working.Economists call those the prime-age years. Incomes gen...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

The Lightning has re-signed one of its restricted free agents in backup goalie Louis Domingue, who will be back with Tampa Bay on a two-year deal worth $2.3 million.Domingue, 26, was acquired from Arizona in November after he had posted a 4.33 goals-...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
A new wave: Florida voters will have many more choices on 2018 ballot

A new wave: Florida voters will have many more choices on 2018 ballot

TALLAHASSEE — Florida may or may not see a blue wave this fall, but it's already experiencing a new wave.A flood of new candidates for seats in the state Legislature, many of them Democratic women, met Friday's deadline to get on the ballot and...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

The Lightning has filled one of the openings on Jon Cooper's coaching staff, announcing Friday  that former Tampa Bay forward Jeff Halpern has been hired as an assistant coach.Halpern, 42, has spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Orange County Democratic Party cancels planned debate; Gillum, King blame Graham, Levine

Orange County Democratic Party cancels planned debate; Gillum, King blame Graham, Levine

The Orange County Democratic Party announced Friday that it won't host a gubernatorial debate Tuesday, June 26. Andrew Gillum and Chris King are blaming their opponents, Philip Levine and Gwen Graham.In a release Friday afternoon, the Orang...
Updated: 1 hour ago