CLEARWATER — Pinellas County commissioners said yes Jan. 14 to a $1 a year lease with Palm Harbor Community Services Agency for the Palm Harbor Library, 2330 Nebraska Ave.

The lease includes the building and parking area. The lease will automatically renew for three successive five-year terms. The lease can be terminated by either party with notice of at least 180 days or for cause, which is specified in the agreement.

The lessee, which is PHCSA, is required to pay utilities except for the electrical charges for a vehicle charging station which will be located on the property. Pinellas County will pay that bill.

In addition, the same as agreements approved with other unincorporated areas last year, the county will be responsible for capital improvement replacements that include the roof, building envelop, HVAC systems, elevators, fire alarm systems, exterior door and windows. This is a departure from past leases that made the lessee responsible for everything.

The lessee is still responsible for routine and preventive maintenance, as well as repairs of the building and grounds, which could include plumbing, electrical, telecommunications, interior walls, floors, painting, landscaping and maintenance of the parking lot.

The lessee is required to maintain its own assets. It also is required to carry specified insurance.

Property purchase enables work on Bee Branch Creek.

Commissioners also approved a contract for purchase of a 0.49-acre parcel in Palm Harbor as requested by the Public Works Department.

The contract calls for the county to pay Deborah J. and Lon J. Chaney, husband and wife, $300,000 for the property at 1421 Virginia Ave., Palm Harbor. The cost is higher than the $225,000 appraisal; however, staff pointed out that the appraisal was done from the outside of the house and didn’t include improvements.

The county had been looking for property near Bee Branch Creek to enable work on Phase III of a project to help prevent erosion, stabilize creek banks and protect adjacent structures. The buildings on the Virginia Avenue property are near to or perched above the creek.

Purchasing the property and removing the structure minimizes risk to the property and saves money on the project since the county won’t have to build a steel sheet pile retaining wall.

Owning the property also allows site access for maintenance in association with the Phase III project and the potential for additional benefits.

In written comments, Andrew Pupke, Facilities and Real Property Division director, said the county had two other options, including the purchase of rights for a partial easement for $75,000; however, it would limit the county’s access and abilities during initial creek re-stabilization and require construction of a steel sheet pile retaining wall near the home.

Staff was concerned about the stability of the residence and noted that the pool had already started to crack.

The third option was eminent domain, which Pupke said could be a costly and drawn out process. He said purchase of the property for $300,000 was the best option.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.