Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Voters Given Choice on Park Financing St. Johns Referendum Sought on 160-Acre, $3.2 Million Job

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Voters Given Choice on Park Financing St. Johns Referendum Sought on 160-Acre, $3.2 Million Job

Article excerpt

PALM VALLEY -- Supporters of the proposed 160-acre Davis Park

on State Road 210 west of the Intracoastal Waterway want voters

to consider an annual assessment of $50 per household or a

property tax assessment to fund the $3.2 million project.

The park's backers hope to convince county commissioners July 9

to approve a voter referendum calling for either option to raise

the $833,000 a year needed to build the park and provide

maintenance, said Bernie Sanders, president of the Ponte Vedra

Athletic Association.

The park is planned on land donated by Jacksonville's Davis

family, owners of the WinnDixie grocery store chain.

If commissioners approve the referendum, promoters want the

issue to go on the ballot Sept. 3. Residents of Ponte Vedra

Beach, Palm Valley and some surrounding areas would vote on the

referendum, and shoulder most of the tab if the measure passes.

Businesses would pay a penny-per-square-foot assessment fee or

equitable tax, according to Sanders.

A $50 per-year assessment on households and a business tax

would raise $833,750 a year. By comparison, a 50cent tax on each

$1,000 of taxable value on property would generate $1 million

annually from the region.

The proposed taxing district extends roughly from the Duval

County line south to the Guana Wildlife Management Area and west

to Interstate 95.

At the end of 10 years, when a $3,271,000 construction loan

would be paid off, the assessment could be reduced, Sanders

said.

Still, some question the cost.

"I think it's grandiose," said Palm Valley resident Mary

Kohnke, who has looked at cost estimates from the athletic

association.

"I think the money involved here needs some very, very close

scrutiny," she said. "I only pay $100 a year for garbage

[pickup]."

Kohnke said the estimated $1.3 million in interest payments

over the course of the 10-year construction loan should be

avoided.

"I think they should start building when they have the money,"

she said.

She said public hearings on the plans need to be held in the

northeastern part of the county. …

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