PORT RICHEY — This much is decided: The city will pay $195,000 for waterfront land just east of the U.S. 19 bridge, opening up 1.7 acres by a unanimous council vote.
This much is not: What's going to go there? A business center or a trailhead? A police substation or a firehouse? A boat launch or a spoils site? A park or a parking lot?
With the deal for the site of the former Moonlight Bay Mobile Home Park approved, City Council members said Tuesday they had eight options for what was originally proposed as dumping grounds for the long-awaited dredge.
Mayor Richard Rober said the inlet property at Weber Lane near Grand Boulevard could still become a spoils site, where muck pulled from the floor of the city's waterways could dry and be sold.
But in case the city can't cobble together enough grants, funding or special-assessment revenue to pay for the dredge, Rober said, the land could still be used as an easy entrance onto the Cotee River. It would also be more welcoming to neighbors as a park or docks, he added, than a set of 8- to 10-foot-tall hills of potentially smelly muck.
The land's cost, about $100,000 less than the holding company's initial offer, will be financed over 10 years at an interest rate of about 4 percent. Though it will cost more over the next decade than if it were to be bought outright, members agreed that having "flexibility" in the budget would be wiser during a time of tightening tax revenue.
Terry Rowe, who along with Nancy Britton sat with the council for their first meeting since this month's election, said he was more interested in paying now than later, saving what could be more than $50,000 in interest fees. But he added that, loan or no, the property was a good deal.
"There are areas of the city that could use a little more help," Rowe said, "and I think this could be a shot in the arm to that east side."
Drew Harwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6244.