The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, January 13, 1997, at 9:00 a.m., in the Training Room (Room 233), Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: G. Richard Swartz, Jr., Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; William "Bill" H. Good; Rhonda H. Gerber; and Catherine C. Hanson. Others present were: Sue Whittle, County Manager; Alvin Jackson, Deputy County Manager; Sanford (Sandy) A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Ava Kronz, Director of Continuous Quality Improvement; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; Sarah LaMarche, Finance Director; Don Post, Senior Director, Solid Waste Management Services; Sharon Farrell, Senior Director, Growth Management; Mike Miller, Chief Planner, Growth Management; Jim Smith, Director, Planning and Development Services Division, Growth Management; Mike Anderson, Senior Director, Facilities and Capital Improvements; Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Public Works; Don Griffey, Director of Engineering, Public Works; Chuck Pula, Parks and Recreation Coordinator; Ed Havill, Property Appraiser; Leslie Little, Senior Director, Economic Development; Deborah Boulware, Director, Agricultural Center; Melinda Hogan, 4-H Agent, Agricultural Center; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Cadwell gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. Alvin Jackson, Deputy County Manager, updated the Board on the status of the Natural Emergency Resolution, stating that he had communicated with the State Department of Emergency Management and was waiting to hear back from them, regarding their attempt to include Lake County in the Presidential Disaster Declaration, declaring the County in a state of emergency. He stated that, if that occurs, the County will not have to renew its Resolution; however, if the County decides to request state resources, it will need to renew the Resolution. He stated that, if the County is included in the Presidential Disaster Declaration, federal resources will be open to the County.
It was noted that, in order for the County to qualify for either the State or the Presidential Disaster Declaration, it would be best for the County to continue the Natural Emergency Resolution for another seven days.
On a motion by Commr. Good, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to extend its Natural Emergency Resolution, declaring a state of natural emergency in Lake County, for an additional seven days.
PERSONAL APPEARANCES/PUBLIC HEARINGS
WORKSHOP - FAIRGROUNDS
Mr. Mike Anderson, Senior Director, Facilities and Capital Improvements, informed the Board that he would be discussing the future of the Lake County Fairgrounds, as well as the Chris Ford Industrial Park. He reviewed Focus Area B, which is the development of an economic base and the infrastructure needed, which will allow citizens the ability to enjoy optimum employment, varied cultural opportunities, and a quality standard of living. He stated that the five goals staff has targeted within Focus Area B are as follows:
Goal 1: Create more technical and professional employment opportunities by encouraging new business and industry to locate in Lake County.
Goal 2: Enhance and diversify the tax base.
Goal 3: Assist and encourage existing businesses to expand and diversify operations and facilities.
Goal 4: Adopt the Five Year Capital Improvements Plan.
Goal 5: Develop an economic strategy which would include cultural tourism and educational activities.
Mr. Anderson stated that Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance, would be reviewing the financial history of the Chris Ford Industrial Park, noting that she had prepared spreadsheets giving the Board an idea of where the County started and where it is today, with regard to same. He stated that she would also be discussing a Situation Analysis, indicating what sales the County has had at the park and where it stands at the present time, with regard to actual inventory and what staff is looking at, regarding the possibility of developing Phase II. He stated that she would be discussing some possible options, with regard to what the County can do with the balance of the inventory of properties at the industrial park, as well as what they feel the Board may want to consider for Phase II of the Tourist Development Council property.
At this time, Mr. Anderson reviewed various photographs, as well as the history and background of the Lake County Fairgrounds and Expo Center Complex, noting that the Fair actually started in 1915, as a school fair, in Tavares, when the County's population was approximately 10,000 and has grown to where its attendance now averages approximately 86,000 visitors annually and a Farmers Market is held each Thursday of the week, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, which draws as many as 20,000 visitors. He stated that the County does not make anything off the Farmers Market, to speak of, because the only thing it collects is rental fees from the vendors, for the spaces they occupy. He noted that it is one of the vendors' favorite markets, because it is one of the most lucrative ones for them.
Mr. Anderson stated that the present Fairgrounds (29 acres) is landlocked by development, so there is no place for it to expand and grow. He stated that the County is confined to approximately 18 acres of actual useable land, consisting of the Expo Hall, the Flower Show Building, the Clements Building, the Education Building and the LaRoe Pavilion, consisting of 32,900 sq. ft. of enclosed space and 11,700 sq. ft. of open sided space (LaRoe Pavilion).
Mr. Anderson stated that, overall, the main problems associated with the existing Fairgrounds are summarized as follows:
Site - Area too small (29 acres) - no room to expand.
Parking - Too little (1,500 spaces) - limits number of visitors.
Buildings - Outdated - 30 years old, never maintained as permanent buildings.
Restrooms - Insufficient number for the square footage of space provided.
Site Drainage - Very poor, due to soil conditions. Hardpan clay close to surface - makes percolation minimal, therefore, must depend on drainage and retention ponds to remove standing water.
HVAC - Does not exist in any public buildings, other than administrative office.
Mr. Anderson compared Lake County's Fairgrounds facilities to other similar use facilities in the Central Florida area, being:
Orange Citrus Showcase - Polk County
Lakeland Civic Center
Volusia County Fairgrounds
Mr. Anderson then reviewed possible options for the Board to consider, with regard to the Fairgrounds facilities, as follows, however, noted that future space needs or improvements to parking were not taken into consideration:
A. Remain at current location and renovate, at a cost of approximately $550,260.
B. Remain at current location and rebuild from scratch, at a cost of approximately $1.56 to $1.78 million.
C. Relocate and sell the facility.
Discussion occurred regarding the possibility of relocating the Fairgrounds to the Lake Idamere site, in Tavares, at which time Commr. Hanson stated that said site would do nothing for the County, either locally or regionally.
Mr. Don Post, Senior Director, Solid Waste Management Services, reviewed an aerial of the Lake Idamere site, noting how much property could actually be utilized for the Fairgrounds (70 acres) and how much would need to be set aside for expansion of the Solid Waste facilities.
Commr. Hanson suggested considering the property located at Chris Ford Industrial Park, noting that the County could start with something small that would have a potential to grow.
Mr. Anderson suggested that Mr. Charles Bradshaw, who at one time had considered donating some property near the industrial park to the County, for the proposed Florida State Agricultural Museum, be contacted, to see if he would still be interested in donating or selling said property. He stated that, with regard to the current Fairgrounds property, he would like to see the County keep it, if at all possible, noting that he feels it could be fixed up and used for other purposes. He stated that the Board might want to consider the idea of, rather than having a Fairgrounds/Conference Center as one facility, separating the two, noting that the County has been approached by the City of Leesburg, regarding the possibility of jointly developing a conference center on Hwy. 441, near the Leesburg Regional Airport. He stated that there are other locations that the County might consider, as well, which would expand the possibility of separating the Fairgrounds from the Conference Center.
Commr. Swartz questioned whether the Board wanted to look at an enhanced facility, primarily for local use, although it may have some regional use, or whether they wanted to look at an Expo Center type facility. He stated that he would be more inclined to go with a local facility, versus a regional facility.
Commr. Good stated that he felt the County should go with a local facility, but one that is located in a regional transportation area, and he sees the industrial park site as having that capability.
Commr. Hanson stated that she felt the best site for the Fairgrounds was the site that was originally considered for the Florida State Agricultural Museum - because of the transportation issue and what is developing in that area.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt the industrial park site would be a good site for the Fairgrounds, because it would fit in with what the County is doing in that area. He stated that he did not feel the County should be buying land, when it has the industrial park property.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 10:15 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess until 10:30 a.m.
PERSONAL APPEARANCES/PUBLIC HEARINGS
WORKSHOP - FAIRGROUNDS (CONT'D.)
Commr. Swartz reconvened the meeting and questioned whether there was a consensus to not proceed with the large renovations that will be needed for the existing Fairgrounds, to keep it operational.
It was agreed that that was the consensus.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt the Board needed to discuss the long-range plans for the existing Fairgrounds - whether they wanted to put it on the market or keep it.
Commr. Swartz stated that there will be enough time to make that decision, noting that there will be at least one more Fair at the facility, before the County will no longer be utilizing it. He suggested that the County continue to expend funds, to maintain the facility and make sure it is operational for the current Fair, but to not go into an extensive expansion or improvement phase. He suggested that the County Manager direct staff to bring this issue back to the Board, at a later date, indicating what they feel the County needs to do and what said costs will be.
PERSONAL APPEARANCES/PUBLIC HEARINGS
WORKSHOP - CENTRAL PARK
Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance, reviewed a Financial Summary that she had prepared for the Chris Ford Industrial Park, from its inception in 1992 through 1997, noting that the total amount of monies received from land sales at the park is $1,357,078, with $231,895 received in interest and $3,387,000 received from long term borrowing, for a total of $5,003,991. She stated that the costs for the wastewater improvements was $1,152,418 and noted that the County made a debt payment of $1,000,000 this year. She stated that, in total, the County has spent $4,783,742 out of the fund, which does not include the cost of the land that was purchased in 1986. She stated that the fund balance at the end of 1997 was $220,249. She then reviewed a recap that she had prepared, regarding the purchase of the land, noting that, in 1986, the County paid $1,011,640 for the Libby property and $134,400 for the Hanson property. She stated that some land was donated to the County, at the time, and the value for said property was $416,152. She stated that, less the amount purchased by the Tourist Development Council, the Net Cost for said land was $901,339.
Ms. Lehman then reviewed a Recap of Acreage that she had prepared for the park, noting that there is a total of 230.49 acres in Phase I and 302.09 in Phase II, with a total of 532.58 usable acres and 201.60 non-usable acres, for an overall total of 734.18 acres. She reviewed a Recap of Land Sales that she had prepared, totaling $1,357,078, as well as a summary of the sales, to date, indicating the revenues earned, all the expenses, and where the County stood, as to whether or not there was a gain or loss. She noted that the total revenues, to date, were $1,616,991; the expenses that were incurred, with the improvements that were made, plus the other operating costs and interest were $3,783,742, for a net loss, before land cost, of $2,166,751. She stated that there are 95 acres left to sell at the industrial park and, if the County were to value those acres at $1,710,000, it would amount to a loss of $456,751. She stated that, if the County were to take into account the cost of the land, at $1,146,040, the loss would be $1,602,791; however, if the County considered the amount paid by the Tourist Development Council, the loss would be $941,938. She stated that it would depend on how the cost of the land was considered.
Ms. Lehman discussed the line of credit and the debt that is outstanding for the park, noting that, on Page 16 of the handout (booklet distributed to the Board), it contained a recap of the monies that were borrowed for the improvements that were made to the park. She stated that the County borrowed $1,564,000 for the road improvements (tax exempt) and $1,823,000 for the water/wastewater improvements (taxable), for a total of $3,387,000. She stated that the County also borrowed $4,613,000, to fund the renovations to the Administration Building and the Historic Courthouse, for a total of $8,000,000 in capital improvements. She stated that August 31, 1997, the County made its first principal payment on the outstanding debt, taking $1,000,000 out of the industrial park fund and $1,100,000 in infrastructure sales tax, for a total of $2,100,000, bringing the total amount to $5,900,000, which she noted is currently outstanding. She stated that the principal sum of $5,900,000 is due, in full, on August 31, 2001, and the interest is payable, semiannually, at a variable rate, ranging from 4.17% to 4.49%. She noted that the interest payments are approximately 4.5%; however, the County is earning over 5.3%.
Ms. Leslie Little, Senior Director, Economic Development, reviewed a topo map (contained in the booklet) of the industrial park, indicating the TDC property, as well as the IDA property. She discussed several potential prospects for the park, one being for Parcel 6 and another for Parcel 19 and noted that the County has received an offer for Parcel 14. She stated that Parcel 1 is now available, due to the fact that a prospect for that parcel is no longer interested.
Mr. Mike Anderson, Senior Director, Facilities and Capital Improvements, noted, for informational purposes, that the property located southwest of Independence Boulevard is TDC (Tourist Development Council) property and the property located northeast of Independence Boulevard is IDA (Industrial Development Authority) property.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, informed the Board that he sent the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) a draft agreement, which would allow Phase I and the Maritec Industries parcel to be sold, but that it would require the Board to do a DRI or fast track permitting, or, if the Board elected not to go further, it would need to do a binding letter, for Phase I. He stated that the County has not received their comments back on said draft, to date. He stated that the agreement is just a temporary measure, until the Board decides what it wants to do with the property.
Ms. Little informed the Board that she was working with a very large company that was considering the possibility of purchasing most of Phase II, however, was not at liberty to disclose who said client was, at this time. She stated that the County will have to go through a very quick DRI process and have the site ready for construction by July 1, 1998, in order to meet the company's requirements, should they choose to purchase said property.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the County could enter into an agreement with said client, which would allow development in advance of the DRI process.
Discussion occurred regarding the property that was originally going to be donated for the proposed Florida State Agricultural Museum, at which time Commr. Hanson stated that Mr. Bradshaw was going to donate approximately 350 acres, on Villa City Road, fronting Hwy. 27. She stated that he would probably still be interested in donating 100 acres of said property, however, noted that he does not like the concept of a Fair. She stated that he would go along with a Conference Center.
It was noted that the consensus of the Board was to rule out the Lake Idamere site, because of the size of the parcel and the landfill needs.
Commr. Good suggested putting back on the list the IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) property, a 263 acre site located south of Leesburg and east of U.S. 27, that is under state ownership.
Commr. Hanson stated that said site was considered, when the County was looking for property for the Florida State Agricultural Museum; however, the County could not get the legislators to allow it as a potential site for the museum.
Commr. Good stated that things have changed since then and there are now options that did not exist at that time.
Commr. Hanson stated that she felt the best site was the U.S. 27/19 site, however, feels the County should communicate with Mr. Bradshaw, to see if his property is still available and whether he would still be interested in donating 100 acres of it for the Fairgrounds. She noted that the site would probably have to be zoned CFD.
Commr. Swartz stated that he felt the majority of the Board would like to consider the property located at the industrial park. He stated that he liked the idea of the County getting out of the industrial park business and this seemed like the best way to do it.
Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that time is of the essence, noting that, once the County begins the DRI process, it will be fairly expensive to change gears. He stated that staff would like to have a final plan.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt the Board should move forward and start preliminary work on the DRI process.
Commr. Swartz questioned how the land that is considered TDC property plays into what the County needs to do.
Ms. Farrell stated that the County is looking at a DRI process for said property, so it would be a lot easier on staff if it was for the Fairgrounds.
On a motion by Commr. Good, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board directed staff to move forward with the DRI process, for Phase II of the Chris Ford Industrial Park, and to dedicate up to 100 acres of the park, adjacent to the Maritec Industries property, to be used for a Fairgrounds/Conference Center type facility - something for local and regional use.
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, informed the Board that staff would be bringing a proposal back to them, regarding the DRI process, at a later date, and that they may bring a proposal to bring a person on board, to see the DRI process through, as well.
A brief discussion occurred regarding the issue of the TDC property and whether there would be a payback to TDC, of the difference between the 285 acres that TDC owns and the 105 acres that the Board would like to utilize for the Fairgrounds.
Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that the Board will have to address the issue of what to do with the balance of the TDC property, once the County utilizes the 100 acres alluded to for the Fairgrounds, as well as the issue of whether the facility will be "local" or "regional". He stated that TDC monies are restricted by the Florida Statutes; therefore, whatever is proposed for the 100 acres would have to meet the intent and purpose of the Statutes.
Ms. Lehman referred to Page 14 of the booklet and noted that, as mentioned by the County Attorney, Resolution No. 1991-193 was passed, stating that the TDC purchased 285 acres of land at the industrial park for $660,858. She stated that Item II, on said page, contained a breakdown of the acreage, being that the TDC had 23 acres in Phase I and 189.84 in Phase II, with 72.14 acres being non-usable, for a total of 285 acres. She stated that Item III, on said page, was a recap of the costs for improvements to the land and related costs, not including operating expenses, in the amount of $3,576,518, which amounts to $15,517 per acre, for Phase I. She reviewed various options that were considered, as noted in Item V, which was (1) to pay the original cost of the 273 acres that the TDC would be selling; (2) to pay the original cost, plus interest, less the fair market value of the acreage that is going to be retained by the TDC, for the Welcome Center; and (3) to pay the appraised value of the 273 acres. She noted that there is not a current appraisal on file.
Commr. Hanson stated that she was concerned about the fact that she did not receive said information until this meeting, even though she had requested it several months prior to the meeting. She stated that she did not feel any of the three options indicated was a fair deal for the TDC. She stated that the County needs to pay the TDC for the acres they will be utilizing and she does not feel it should compare 1986 dollars to 1997 dollars. She stated that a compromise would be the $660,853, less the 12 acres at $2,319 per acre, plus the interest, minus the development costs. She stated that another option would be for the TDC to keep the 285 acres and sell the IDA the difference of 168 acres. She stated that the Board is going to have to go back to the drawing board and be fair, either way they do it.
Commr. Swartz stated that the Board did not need to make a decision about the matter this date.
The Board thanked staff for a good presentation, however, noted that, in the future, they needed to receive pertinent information prior to the meeting.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:00 noon.
G. RICHARD SWARTZ, JR.,CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK