Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

YMCA, St. Johns Break Talks Park Control Grounds Deal

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

YMCA, St. Johns Break Talks Park Control Grounds Deal

Article excerpt

The YMCA of Florida's First Coast and St. Johns County have

discontinued negotiations over control of about 160 acres of

land the Davis family has offered to donate to the YMCA for a


The YMCA plans to look for funds from private sources and

proceed with the development.

The county has $575,000 set aside for badly needed park and

recreation land in the northeast, and the YMCA needs the money

to develop the Davis property, located on County Road 210, 1

mile east of the Intracoastal Waterway. Several months of

negotiations between the YMCA and the county fell apart when the

YMCA would not grant partial control of the land to the county.

"We had originally looked at investing in the YMCA property,"

said Leon Shimer, director of recreation and parks for the

county. "We had a couple of agreements we passed back and forth,

and we wanted a perpetual easement on the property. The Y could

not agree to that . . . and of course the Y's got their side,

and we've got our side, where we have to protect the taxpayers."

The county will continue to look for park land in the


"We've never stopped [looking]," Shimer said. "Yes, northeast

is still a high priority as far as the county is concerned."

However, the county is not totally out of the Davis park

picture. Attorneys for both sides are trying to work out an

annual agreement that will allow the county and individual teams

or organizations like the Ponte Vedra Athletic Association to

use the park by paying a fee, said Trigg Wilkes, president and

chief executive officer of the YMCA.

"We want to make sure this is perceived as a positive," Wilkes

said. "Everybody is still going to be able to use it [the park].

The only negative at all is we just couldn't give up the amount

of control they [the county] wanted us to."

"We're both after the same thing, to serve the recreation

needs, and hopefully something can still be worked out," Shimer

said. …

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