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Dunedin officials tour city-owned properties they might want to sell

DUNEDIN — Commissioners will tour several properties as they continue to examine a list of surplus city-owned homes, vacant lots and small easements they may decide to sell.

The tours are the next step in a process begun last year to generate revenue by returning the roughly two dozen properties to the city's tax rolls.

City staffers discovered the unused resources, ranging in size from 500 square feet to 7 acres, during preliminary budget planning last year. The city acquired the parcels over the years through gifts from Pinellas County, foreclosures, inheritances from deceased owners without heirs and other means.

Commissioners adopted formal guidelines for identifying and selling off the properties in July, and various city departments have spent recent months whittling the list of possibilities from nearly three dozen to about 24.

City leaders hope to finalize the list of properties to advertise for sale to adjacent homeowners or the general public in coming months.

At that time, "I would like us all to have a conversation about what our intentions are with any moneys that we do make from these properties," Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said, adding that, at least once in the past, the city has reinvested earnings from a property sale into affordable housing. "I'd like us to have a goal or a few goals because it's kind of found money."

Prospective buyers have already been banging on the city's door, Matthew Campbell, assistant to the city manager, told commissioners during a workshop Tuesday.

He said Menorah Manor, a skilled nursing facility that recently opened next door to a 1.7-acre, city-owned tract that formerly housed a water treatment plant off Virginia Street and Greenbriar Boulevard, is interested in purchasing the land for expansion. (Dunedin, in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, came to own the Clearwater property following ongoing plant violations in the 1970s).

But Public Works director Doug Hutchens told commissioners he preferred that the city keep it.

He said his department expects to lose its current storage space behind the city's Belcher Road fire station as part of a proposal in which firefighters would relocate their training area there from Highlander Park. Meanwhile, the Greenbriar tract would be an ideal place for his department to store equipment, storm cleanup debris and other items, he said.

"The community is essentially built out and there's just not a lot of land where we can work without impacting neighbors," Hutchens said. "I'd rather not buy land somewhere … if we have some that's already owned by us that we can use."

Staff similarly hopes to hold on to a 1.15-acre parcel attached to the former Nielsen Media Research property off Patricia Avenue.

A 7.5-acre wooded tract connected to the Vanech Recreation Complex property at the northern end of Hobbit Road is among those that commissioners will tour in an effort to help staff decide its future.

Staff, however, is recommending that the city sell several foreclosed homes and vacant lots where buyers might build homes and "reduce neighborhood blight," Campbell said. Those include properties on Catherine Street and Terrace Road in the upscale Wood Street neighborhood, and a bundle of three lots surrounded by vintage homes in the Lake Paloma area.

There are also about a half-dozen former well sites and slivers of land ranging from 3 to 9 feet wide that could be sold to neighboring homeowners or subdivisions.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at ksummers@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4153. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

. Fast facts

On the Web

Watch video and view documents from the Dunedin City Commission's surplus property discussion online at http://bit.ly/GEzmE6.

Dunedin officials tour city-owned properties they might want to sell 03/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 8:02pm]

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