Monday, September 22, 2014

West Palm Beach mayor hints at Lake Worth site for baseball | West Palm Beat

Click title for link. It seems to me to be more of an endorsement of the John Prince Park site for a spring training facility if you read Mayor Muoio's Open Letter. Check this out.

An Open Letter From Mayor Jeri Muoio on Baseball

This week saw a flurry of baseball news here in Palm Beach County.

I am often asked about the city’s role in the baseball story.

Preserving major league baseball in Palm Beach County does have advantages for our region.

There is no doubt that a sports venue available for tournaments and other events would serve as an economic driver.

Regardless of where it may be located, a stadium would have a positive impact as visitors seek out places to stay and play in our area. This is why renewed talk of building a facility in Lake Worth is so appealing.

Several of cities have already passed resolutions supporting Lake Worth’s John Prince Park as the location.

It is critical to understand that our city is not involved in negotiations to build a baseball complex. The County and other countywide partners are working on how they would pay for it.

Not one single city dollar would be spent to build a stadium.

Yet our city remains involved because the city owns the land on which the teams want to build the facility.

The deal requires the city to donate the land to the county for free. Our one hundred sixty acre property located near Military Trail and 45th Street is a valuable city asset and something I have refused to simply give away without significant compensation.

Donating the land would remove it from the tax rolls since the county (not the teams) would own the land. (Palm Beach County government is exempt from paying property taxes.) West Palm Beach would never receive property tax revenue from a huge piece of property with tremendous economic potential.

We had originally proposed a trade with the county. We offered our 160 acres in exchange for 1.7 acres on a mostly vacant county-owned block in our downtown. We would have redeveloped the block into an economically significant project to revitalize the area across from the TriRail station.

That offer was rejected.

This past Friday, the city received an unsolicited offer from a private developer to buy our 160 acres near Military Trail and 45th Street and build a mixture of residential and nonresidential projects. The $14 million dollar offer also includes the construction of a 39 acre public park for our residents.

Once constructed, the project would produce significant annual property tax revenue to be used to fund a multitude of city services.

Because of the tremendous potential such a project promises, the only responsible choice is to give it serious consideration.

Yes, acceptance of the offer would take our land out of consideration for baseball. But it would not take baseball out of Palm Beach County.

The redesigned plans for John Prince Park in Lake Worth provide a renewed possibility that even the county itself says is a viable option.

As the expression goes, “timing is everything.” And perhaps it says something that the offer to buy our land came at the same time Lake Worth and its neighboring cities are putting forward a new plan for John Prince Park.

I continue to support the idea of keeping baseball in Palm Beach County.

But I have an even greater responsibility to preserve and protect the interests of the residents of West Palm Beach. If we can find a path that will uphold that obligation while keeping baseball in our region then it’s a home run for everyone.