ALACHUA COUNTY
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Jack Durrance Auditorium, Room 209 Second Floor 12 SE 1st Street
June 14, 2016 Regular BoCC Meeting
Agenda Item #19


Title
Acceptance of Donation of Lochloosa Creek Page Tract through the Alachua County Forever Program

Amount
$24,143.00 Acquisition $5,765 Stewardship Annually

Description
Request for the Board to add the Page property to the Alachua County Forever Active Acquisition List and execute the Real Estate Gift Agreement to receive the donation of the Lochloosa Creek Page Tract.

Recommendation
The Board should add the Page property to the Alachua County Forever Active Acquisition List, execute the Real Estate Gift Agreement to receive the donation of the Lochloosa Creek Page Tract, authorize staff to execute any additional documents as necessary to perform its due diligence and close the transaction and approve the attached Budget Amendment.

Alternative(s)
The Board should not approve staff’s recommendation and provide direction.

Requested By
Chris Bird, 264-6801

Originating Department
Environmental Protection

Attachment(s) Description
Exhibit 1: Real Estate Gift Agreement for the Lochloosa Creek Page Tract Exhibit 2: Property Evaluation Exhibit 3: Map Exhibit 4: Estimated Costs Exhibit 5: Budget Amendment ACF Page Donation Presentation

Documents Requiring Action
Exhibit 1 Real Estate Gift Agreement to receive the donation of the Lochloosa Creek Page Tract, Exhibit 5 Budget Amendment.

Executive Summary
Dr. Barbara Page approached the County about donating her 40-acre property for conservation purposes. It is close to the eastern terminus of the Gainesville- Hawthorne Rail Trail (GHRT). While the property has low ecological value, it can provide amenity value for users of the GHRT especially those embarking from the City of Hawthorne. Approval of the Agreement (Exhibit 1) means the County will accept the donation provided the due diligence is satisfactory and access can be secured to the GHRT.

Background
Last September, Dr. Page nominated her property to the County for conservation. She intends to donate the property in fee. The property consists of wet and mesic flatwoods with a forested wetland running through the middle that most closely resembles a baygall. The flatwoods are fire excluded and have low species diversity (Exhibit 2). However, a small wildfire and an opening revealed greater species diversity, so presumably the reintroduction of fire would greatly improve the species diversity. Slash pines are the dominant canopy species in the flatwoods, with a single longleaf and two pond pines observed during the site inspection. Some of the slash pines were very large. Saw palmettos, galberrry and loblolly bay are dominant in the midstory/understory. The property has seen little human use/disturbance in the last few decades and there was no evidence of industrial silvicultural on the property. The forested wetland was is excellent condition with Sweetbay, loblolly bay, red maple, black gum, and diamond leave oak in the canopy, and lizard tail, Jack-in-the-pulpit, toothed rein orchid (Habenaria floribunda), cinnamon fern, and netted chain fern in the ground cover. No invasive species were observed on the property, although cogon grass and air potato were observed along the GHRT. The County Land Conservation Board recommends the property be added to the Board of County Commissioner’s (BoCC) Active Acquisition List and the BoCC accept the donation. The Alachua County Property Appraiser has the market value for the property at $89,100. The County will get Title Insurance in that amount.

Issues
The Page property abuts the Lochloosa Conservation Easement on the west side, and by association 59,000 acres of conserved lands in the Lochloosa area, a farm field on the east side, and a forested parcel on the south side, (Exhibit 2 Maps 1 and 2). The north side of the Property abuts a sliver of Alachua County School Board (ACSB) Property associated with Hawthorne High School that is 100-150 feet deep and separated from the rest of the property by the GHRT (Exhibit 3). The east GHRT trailhead is approximately 1,100 feet east of the Page Property. This strip is not being used by ACSB for Hawthorne HS. Staff is working with the ACSB staff to receive a Deed for the intervening strip of land, and physically connect it to the GHRT as an amenity. Even though this is a donation, the County is procuring its due diligence. The property will be managed as an amenity to the GHRT. The State Park Service welcomes the addition, but is not able to manage the property. Estimated acquisition and stewardship costs are presented in Exhibit 4. To create the appropriate budget authority and move the cash to procure the due diligence, the attached (Exhibit 5) Budget Amendment should also be approved. Execution of the Gift Agreement is the final action for this acquisition, provided there are no issues with the due diligence or securing the access. The contract allows for terminating the contract if the due diligence uncovers issues or if the access cannot be secured. The City of Hawthorne staff has indicated a willingness to partner with the County on the long-term management of the property, especially if the proposed 2016 Sales Tax Referendum passes. There is potential to tie it into their recreational bike trail plans as an additional amenity. At present, they are not in a position to handle the management of the property. This acquisition will result in an estimated $5,765 in recurring annual operating expenses for land management.

Fiscal Recommendation
Approve expenditures of $24,143 for Acquisition

Fiscal Alternative(s)
No additional expenditures.

Funding Sources
Alachua County Forever Bond reserves

Account Code(s)
Acquisition: 326-5577; Stewardship: 001-5560


Attachment:  Exhibit 2 Property Evaluation.pdf
Attachment:  Exhibit 5 Budget Amendment Lochloosa.pdf
Attachment:  Exhibit 3 Map.pdf
Attachment:  Ex 1 Real Estate Gift Agreement for the Lochloosa Creek Page Track.pdf
Attachment:  ACF Page Donation 160614.pptx
Attachment:  Exhibit 4 Estimated Costs.pdf