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Dade City seeks federal aid to improve old Lykes citrus plant site

DADE CITY — City officials are exploring obtaining "brownfield" status for the Dade City Business Center to qualify for funding and incentives from the federal government.

The Brownfield Redevelopment Act is a federal government program designed mainly to help owners rehabilitate sites that have contamination or pollution problems. The 150-acre tract in Dade City does not have such issues, but the site could still qualify for the program because it is an industrial site that lacks investment interest, said Melanie Kendrick, senior planner for economic development and redevelopment for Pasco County government.

City commissioners held a hearing Tuesday night on seeking brownfield status, with the goal of bringing in money, new jobs and a new energy to the former Lykes citrus processing plant. Another hearing is slated for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 9.

The brownfield status could bring a number of perks, including a $2,500 job bonus refund for each new job created by an eligible business in the designated area; tax credits for certain cleanup or construction costs; and state loan guarantees to help finance improvements.

Agri-Source Fuels, a biodiesel manufacturer at the business park, initially applied for the brownfield designation. City and county officials decided to seek the designation for the entire Dade City Business Center.

In other news, Jen Silvers, who runs the Dade City YMCA, asked commissioners for $35,000 to $45,000 for a new roof and waterproofing of the city-owned building on Meridian Avenue. Silvers mentioned heavily damaged interior walls as a result of years of leakage, despite attempts to patch the holes. Silvers said she wants "to properly serve the city of Dade City and have facilities the citizens can be proud about."

City Commissioners are taking the request into consideration despite the tight budget. Commissioner Camille Hernandez asked Silvers to consider offering city employees either an individual free membership or a discount, "just to show a kind of give and take of some kind," she said. "I just think that would be a really nice gesture, just to support the health and wellness of our employees."

Before the issue is brought back to commissioners, a city staffer will poll employees to gauge interest in the YMCA.

"This building is an investment and we do need to protect that investment," said Dade City Mayor Scott Black.

Dade City seeks federal aid to improve old Lykes citrus plant site 10/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 8:28pm]
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