City Commission purchases property planned for expanded RTS maintenance facility


Published: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 9:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 9:39 p.m.

The Gainesville City Commission on Thursday approved the purchase of property for the future expansion of the Regional Transit System maintenance facility amid some concerns that nearby residents had not been given adequate notice or an opportunity to sound off on the plan.

The city will use $847,000 in Federal Transit Administration grant money to buy the industrially zoned 18-acre property located east of South Main Street off Southeast 13th Avenue. The existing RTS maintenance facility is north of the property, and the former Tent City homeless encampment used to be in a wooded area nearby.

The city will purchase the land from J&L Acquisitions, a Marathon-based company that had bought the property for approximately $440,500 in 2008. An appraisal conducted by the Emerson Appraisal Company before the city's acquisition put the value at $770,000. An additional 10 percent was added to the acquisition price to cover administrative costs, including surveying and appraisals, said Jesus Gomez, RTS transit director.

Most of the property cannot be developed and will serve as a buffer between the new maintenance facility and the Norwood Heights subdivision to the east, Gomez said. Two Norwood Heights residents asked city commissioners to delay the purchase, saying they learned only Wednesday night of the plan for the expanded maintenance facility.

Commissioners Jack Donovan and Scherwin Henry voted against the purchase because they wanted to give more time for input from nearby residents. The purchase passed 4-2, with Thomas Hawkins, Craig Lowe, Lauren Poe and Jeanna Mastrodicasa in favor and Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan out of town.

RTS plans to develop the property in phases over the years and does not, at this time, have money for construction, Gomez said. He said the plan is for RTS to eventually park, maintain and repair up to 230 buses there by 2025, with maintenance and repair work done indoors.

During the meeting, City Manager Russ Blackburn said construction at the site likely is still at least a few years away and that staff will schedule meetings with nearby residents before it goes through the development approval process.

Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or chris.curry@gvillesun.com.

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