TREASURE ISLAND – A sense of urgency suddenly emerged over how quickly the city can act to save tiny Triangle Park in Isle of Palms at one of its Intracoastal Waterway communities on Boca Ceiga Bay.
Isle of Palms Park, also known as “Triangle Park,” is located on the northeast corner of 112th Avenue A and 13th Street East. The .256-acre park with a kid’s playground, swings, a bike rack, shuffleboard court and benches, has been used for generations as the neighborhood meeting place.
The problem, which has suddenly come to the City Commission’s attention, is that two of the three lots upon which the park sits are privately owned, zoned residential and could be put up for sale in September if the city doesn’t opt to buy it. The city owns an adjacent lot. During the commission’s work session July 24, Isle of Palms residents asked the city to save their park.
City Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Hayduke and City Manager Garry Brumback told commissioners the city has been in negotiations with the property owners for about two years. While the current owners have been very amenable to working with city officials to save the park, they want to get some sort of action by September.
Hayduke explained that owners of the property are heirs to Patricia Harris, Charles Brock and his wife Jeanne Brock, the original signed lessors of the lease. The current owners are William Bruce Brock, James Charles Brock, Richard David Brock, Margaret Harris, Sharon Harris and Patricia Burgin, of which each owns a one-sixth interest in the property.
The city of Treasure Island owns an adjacent lot, which was conveyed to the City by Charles Brock and Thomas Harris of Interbay Estates Inc. on June 13, 1978. The lot was given to the city to be used as a park and or recreational property in perpetuity as The Charles S. Brock Park.
In 1991 city entered into a lease with Patricia Harris, Charles Brock and his wife Jeanne Brock for Triangle Park for 100 years. The rent is fixed at $10 per month, with the city paying all taxes, utilities and insurances for the property, but each party has the option of terminating the lease with 90 days notice.
The city of Treasure Island has first right of refusal to purchase the property should the owners receive an offer for purchase of the property.
According to Hayduke, staff met with the Brock family in January and subsequently received an email stating, by September 2018, the city could purchase the property, agree to pay more to lease it, or decide it was not interested and the owners could sell it.
The email said the city can purchase the property for appraised value ranging from $438,000 to $358,000, with the family willing to assist with financing over a limited number of years. Another option would have the city amending the lease to reflect a fair and reasonable market rent. The current fair market rent is estimated at $18,431 per year. The third option would be to allow the family to sell the property.
“The Brock family expressed they would like the property to remain in use as a city park; however, maintaining the lease as status quo is not an option,” Hayduke explained.
“Staff believes that a funding source can be identified for the purchase of the property. After much research, a likely grant source has not been identified in the past six months. However, the Recreation Department staff is applying for two grants through the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program that provide financial assistance to local governments for the development or acquisition of land for public outdoor recreation purposes and geared toward children under the age of 12 years old,” she added.
Commissioner Heidi Horak said the city must act quickly to save the park, while also exploring how it might fund its purchase. She suggested contacting the nonprofit Trust for Public Land to see if that organization can, once again, assist Treasure Island to acquire park property, as it did with Sunset Vista Park 18 years ago.
A sign at Sunset Vista Park notes: “Property for Sunset Vista Trailhead Park was purchased with funding from the Florida Communities Trust Preservation 2000 Program, and assistance of the Trust for Public Land.”
“We done it before. I’d like to see where we could get the funding,” she said.
Commissioner Tyler Payne said; “We do have the money to purchase it, definitely. It’s a great cause.”
The city can use money from Penny for Pinellas to purchase it, he added. The city would still have time to explore assistance from Florida Trust.
City Manager Garry Brumback said the city already explored grants and assistance from the Trust but no money was available.
However, he added, staff would look into those financing options again.
If the city acquired the park property, Payne said, maybe the neighborhood would conduct a fundraising effort to purchase new playground and other equipment for the park.
Commissioner Ralph Kennedy suggested the city send the property owners a letter of intent to purchase the park property, and then it can explore all our options.
City Attorney Jennifer Cowan said staff will notify the owners that the city wishes to exercise its option to purchase the property.
Staff also will note the city also needs more time to explore financing options on how to purchase the property.
Mayor Larry Lunn noted anything can happen until the city has the deed in hand.
Since the item was discussed at a work session, the next meeting the City Commission can vote to take action is Tuesday, Aug. 21.