Parkland acquisition on hold as county debates price
By Suzy Valentine
A $500,000 acquisition of 10 acres in south Miami-Dade County for park purposes was placed in park mode when county commissioners deferred consideration because of the price.
The parcel at the southwest corner of Southwest 157th Avenue and theoretical Southwest 20th Street falls outside the urban development boundary, causing some commissioners to speculate that the seller is seeking to benefit from price inflation that would probably follow state approval of development beyond the line.
Miami-Dade parks officials received two appraisals - one that put values at $30,000 per acre, another at $50,000. Several commissioners felt uneasy about the disparity.
"My concern is that the price is $500,000," said Chairman Joe Martinez, "when the assessed value was $250,000 for 2004 tax rolls."
"Of course it's better to have green areas inside and outside" the urban development boundary, said Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, "but how can we pay half-a-million dollars for something where the price may have gone up because they're expecting the boundary to be moved? I am concerned about the message that this sends."
Parks representatives told commissioners at their meeting last week that the transaction still would represent a good deal for the county given that comparable land inside the urban boundary has attracted $150,000 per acre.
The county's parks director urged the commission to recognize that the land wouldn't become any more affordable.
"I understand your concerns, commissioners," said Vivian Donnell Rodriguez, "and it's something that we are very concerned about in terms of how we proceed about acquisitions. What we're attempting to do is land a park property that quite frankly is not going to get any cheaper. It will only get less attainable for us to serve what is a growing developed area. It won't start going south."
Land records show an appraisal of $250,000, half of what Menrusti SA wants for the parcel, but County Manager George Burgess said the appraisal was posted in January 2004 and the value rose to $385,000 at the beginning of this year.
"With the population growth within the boundary," said Mr. Burgess, "residents' need for green space isn't going to go down, it's going to increase. This is an opportunity to buy land. This property will only go up in value regardless of where it is geographically, so it's an opportunity for us to capture that for public use before it gets priced further off the range. That's what we're seeing here."
Mr. Martinez agreed it would be good for future generations to take the land out of commission for development but said overvaluation of the property remains a stumbling block.
"The fact that we could buy 10 acres that would not be developed is great," he said. "The problem I have is the price."
Commissioners decided to defer the matter, but not before one had another suggestion for the site.
"This is 10 acres?" said Commissioner Bruno Barreiro. "Can we do a baseball stadium?"