MADEIRA BEACH – The city of Madeira Beach cleared a major hurdle for the construction of its proposed $10 million municipal center when bonds financing a large portion of its cost were validated.
The bond validation allows the city to issue up to $6.5 million in bonds for the project, which includes a new city hall and fire station, plus a community building, recreation center and ball field upgrades.
Approval of the bonds had been expected at a court hearing held Aug. 27. But opposition from a citizens group, which wanted to limit the project’s scope to only a city hall and fire station, caused the presiding judge to delay a decision.
On Aug. 30, Judge Anthony Rondolino ruled the opponents’ arguments were “insufficient” to prove their case.
The bonds, he said, served a “proper, legal and paramount public purpose and are fully authorized by law…”
Validation of the bonds also puts an end to a petition drive for a referendum vote to limit the project’s size to the city hall and fire station, according to City Attorney Thomas Trask.
Unless the judge’s decision is appealed, the city can move forward with the bond closing and issuance of the bonds, Trask said.
An appeal of the decision is unlikely, said Robert Andringa, the opponents’ attorney. When asked if an appeal is being considered, Andringa said “I would doubt it.”
Andringa said his clients “now believe they have fought the good fight and are willing to abide by the wishes of the court.”
Delays in gaining the bond validation have already caused the overall cost of the project to increase, due to changes in the bond market, Trask pointed out.
An appeal of the decision, which would have to be decided by the Florida Supreme Court, would create further delays and likely cost the city even more, he said.
City Manager Shane Crawford said approval of the bonds clears the way for the municipal center project to move forward in its entirety.
A resolution authorizing the bond issue will be the commission’s final financial action on the project, Crawford said.
Meetings with the architect and contractor to work out adjustments to design and construction plans will follow in late September and October.
If all goes well, Crawford said groundbreaking for the municipal center project could take place “around Thanksgiving.”