Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Glades County Going Into Land Speculation?

By Donna Storter

The Glades County Board of Commissioner held a Special Meeting last week
called to discuss possibly purchasing 72.5 acres on SR 78 and US 27 for a
site for a future correctional facility/offices and a commercial
development park. Currently an option for purchasing this land is held by
Glades Correctional Development Corporation (GCDC) which has been in
deliberations and negotiations for several years to build a facility to
house immigration detainees, informally known as "the INS project".

GCDC is a non-profit Florida corporation whose goal is to construct the
facility and contract with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) formerly known as INS, to provide institutional housing for
immigrants detained by ICE, and to also within the construction complex
provide a new jail facility for Glades County. If the County purchases the
property for approximately $770,000, the County can lease about 22 acres to
GCDC and possibly receive more in lease
income than the County is currently receiving from ad valorem taxes on
the property as it is currently in agriculture use. The other 50 acres
will be a prime location for commercial or maybe light industrial
development, as the needed infrastructure is available, being water,
sewer and major highway artery access.

The GCDC Board of Directors, Alvin Ward, Chairman, Bobby Flanagan and Nita
Shirley Members, gave their united concrete support of the concept, noting
that Peter Swan, bonding agent for Bergen Capital who will provide the
means for funding the construction, has endorsed the concept of GCDC
leasing the site from
the County, anticipating it will enhance the attraction for bond
purchasers. Commissioner Bob Giesler noted that the proposition of the
County purchasing the property had been an earlier consideration of GCDC
but circumstances at that time were not conducive to its fulfillment.
Glades County electorate approved the project by referendum ballot
several years ago knowing that the County will not be liable for the
operation of the detention center and its contract with ICE, while at
the same time utilizing an opportunity to lessen the County's liability
for the current jail facility which is in disrepair and cannot meet
State corrections inspection standards. Also expressing support for this
purchase was the Glades County Economic Development Council whose Board
of Directors unanimous vote of endorsement was expressed in Executive
Director Tracy Whirls' letter read by Commissioner Russell Echols.

No vote was taken, but the consensus of the four commissioners in
attendance was unanimous in voicing support. This will be an agenda item
at the Commissioners meeting next Tuesday October 11 9 a.m.

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