Atlantic Beach Looks to Buy Selva Preserve Property

Asking price is listed at $1.35 million.

The Atlantic Beach City Commission voted Monday night to authorize City Manager Joe Garrity to move forward with a Letter of Intent for the purchase of a portion of Selva Preserve and place it in conservation.

The property is largely wetlands along Sherman Creek. It had originally been part of the Selva Marina Country Club, and was slated for development. But residents of Atlantic Beach raised concerns about development of the wetlands.

The land purchase was first discussed in December of last year. Since then, the city has gotten appraisals of the property, and the city is considering purchasing the land for $1.35 million.

Monday’s vote gives Garrity the authority to proceed with the Letter of Intent to purchase the property, contingent on the city doing additional research into the purchase. Garrity recommended that the city look at borrowing the money for the purchase.

Commissioner John Stinson said that the city’s pension fund is underfunded by about $6 million, and that the money would also go a long way towards establishing a Mayport Road Community Redevelopment Area. He also expressed concerns about using the Selva Preserve wetlands for mitigation outside the the city limits, which has been discussed but runs counter to city ordinances. “I’m not opposed to the purchase of Selva Preserve, I just think that, when you go back to, even before this, our visioning, the charter says the number one thing … when you took your oath of office is a financial responsibility to the taxpayers,” Stinson said. “And then I went down the list of our visions, trying to fit this into one of those. It doesn’t fit the Mayport Road Corridor improvement, it might fit the parks master plan, it might fit into the stormwater master plan, but we don’t know how we’re going to do that.

“As I’ve said all along, ‘don’t buy something you don’t need and don’t buy something you can’t afford.’ So I have some real concerns about this, I’m not opposed to moving forward. I just think it has some real hiccups,” Stinson said.

Mayor Ellen Glasser said that the Selva Preserve property presents a unique opportunity for Atlantic Beach that may not be available in the future. But there are still some issues that need to be addressed. “I personally don’t know if there is any room on this mitigation issue. If there’s no place to mitigate, that’s kind of a no-win thing.” Glasser said. “This is an opportunity that we’re not going to have again. It would be great to wait until we have our parks master plan done, and address some of the other issues first. But if we don’t do this now, we probably won’t have this opportunity in the future.”

She said that other than concerns about the amount of the purchase, every email she has received has been in favor of acquiring the property. She also said she knows the commission is committed to making improvements along the Mayport Road Corridor.

The vote to proceed with the Letter of Intent was unanimous.



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