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Park district can’t sell Ocean Strand, could open waterfront site

Rumors the park district considered selling waterfront land aren’t true. Legally, they can’t.

Their charter allows the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District to acquire or buy land. But not sell it, a lawyer advised commissioners Monday.

In fact, the district may use reserves to open the 14 acres that straddle the north end of A1A. The land was bought in 1994 and remains closed and undeveloped.

“While the ability to purchase real property is within the Board’s authority, the ability to sell property is not included…” That decision, read by assistant district general counsel Jacob G. Horowitz, put an end to rumors. They generated angry comments from the public.

The gossip was prompted by three developments: The district had the site appraised for $67 million. It needed revenue to put out a bid to construct the public golf course.

Then Compson Boca Group LLC offered “an agreement for the exchange of real property.” That would have swapped Ocean Strand for 2500 and 2600 N. Ocean Blvd. and an additional $51.5 million, according to the agreement. CBG also proposed to “develop the golf course on behalf of the city and the district for costs plus 5%.”

The city recently voted down efforts to develop both sites for oceanfront houses. The Compson offer would have ensured the sites would stay undeveloped.

The offer was unsolicited and never discussed in an open forum, district chair Susan Vogelgesang said afterwards Monday.

On legal advice, the board directed executive director Briann Harms to “respond appropriately in writing to the unsolicited offer.”

But it looks like the brouhaha could prompt something positive.

“We have $3 ½ million of unallocated funds, so if the board wants to do something we can,” Harms said afterwards. “It seems the board is ready to discuss Ocean Strand.”

By Marci Shatzman


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