Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Atlantic Beach Gets Wetlands Property; Buckman-Pritchard Trust Selling Land to City, Which Plans Waterfront Parks

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Atlantic Beach Gets Wetlands Property; Buckman-Pritchard Trust Selling Land to City, Which Plans Waterfront Parks

Article excerpt

Byline: DREW DIXON

ATLANTIC BEACH - The owner of the Buckman-Pritchard Trust wetlands has signed off on selling the property to the city, and city officials are preparing to get funding to improve waterfront parks and preserves in the area along the Intracoastal Waterway.

Assistant City Manager David Thompson is preparing a grant application to the Florida Inland Navigation District seeking money to improve access to tidal streams that lead to the Buckman property, Tideviews Preserve and Dutton Island Preserve. The City Commission approved a resolution Monday authorizing Thompson to apply for the funds.

That came after Barbara Williams, the owner and family representative for the Buckman-Pritchard Trust, signed a purchase agreement March 20 clearing the way to sell the 350-acre tract to the city for about $1.02 million. The city will still hold public hearings in April, but City Manager Jim Hanson said the way has been cleared to buy the property just north of the Atlantic Boulevard bridge. The city has been pursuing the purchase for years to fend off development there.

Most of the Buckman acquisition will be paid for with an anonymous private donation. The city will kick in about $185,000; the commission approved a budget transfer for the acquisition Monday. The money will come from tourist taxes.

The Buckman purchase will be the last piece of a preserve puzzle that will be publicly owned and open for public use. Dutton Island is to the north and Tideviews is to the east of the Buckman tract, which runs along the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Given all that park land, Thompson said the FIND money is essential for the future use of the preserves.

"We want to tie some of these things together so that you've got canoe trails and ecotourism," Thompson said. "That's want we want to accomplish with canoe launches and other amenities. …

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