Manatee County to proceed with purchase of 161 rural acres for future MSO, Utilities, Public Works operations centers

Manatee County to proceed with purchase of 161 rural acres for future MSO, Utilities, Public Works operations centers
Posted on 10/13/2020

MANATEE COUNTY,FL (Oct. 13, 2020) — Manatee County Commissioners today authorized the purchase of 161 acres in East Manatee for a new government operations center to serve Manatee County’s fastest growing areas, Parrish and Lakewood Ranch. The purchase will improve infrastructure maintenance efficiency to a community that is growing by 10,000 people a year and adds miles of roads, pipes, traffic signals and other supporting infrastructure annually.

Currently, the County’s field crews travel from two facilities in SW County, one near GT Bray and the other near Tropicana, to serve the entire 800+ square mile county. This daily travel adds wear and tear to heavy equipment and “time in the truck” for crews as traffic grows. These locations add to response times for immediate service requests and add time to the job. While new, infrastructure in communities like Lakewood Ranch and Parrish still require maintenance. It becomes less efficient to serve these high growth areas from facilities in SW County.

The land is generally located at SE corner of SR 64 and Lena Rd. The land, is generally located apart from dense residential areas and north of SR 64. The property is adjacent to the County’s existing Lena Road Landfill and its Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant in East Manatee. This site will eventually house the County’s Public Works, Utilities field infrastructure and fleet support services. It will eventually site a district operations center, fleet service and other support facilities for the Manatee Sheriff’s Office. 

“This concept is a shared, centrally located county government complex to improve efficiency of services in the Central/Eastern portion of the county,” County Administrator Cheri Coryea said, who noted today is the sixth time over the past 18 months the Board has discussed long range space needs. “What we present today is something that can gain multiple efficiencies on one master-planned parcel of land.”

Coryea said the County explored 20 different sites for the Sheriff’s facility alone, but no others matched the county’s needs as well as the 161-acre parcel which the County will purchase over the next 60 days. The site is located apart from dense residential areas and allows the proposed more intense uses to be located adjacent to the landfill.

The property is adjacent to the County’s aging landfill and today’s action allows the County to prolong the useful life of the landfill by six additional years, which adds $75,000,000 value in landfill air space to the existing landfill. This savings will benefit the solid waste customers of Manatee County. Finally, Coryea said, the site is close to I-75 and State Road 64, centrally located for law enforcement and county maintenance crews that are headquartered today in west and south areas of the county.

Today’s action is part of the recommendations made in the years-long How Will We Grow? project that asked the public how the county government should keep pace with the community’s needs. Deputy County Administrator John Osborne offered an extensive presentation on how the County’s population has exploded in recent years and how its population center has moved from west Bradenton to a more central area. Osborne said Manatee County will top 500,000 over the next 20 years.

“There’s a lot more pressure today on infrastructure support services such as water, sewer, EMS, drainage and stormwater, transportation and the field crews to efficiently serve the community,” Osborne said. “These high-growth areas in east Manatee are experiencing more and more service requests.”

In 2018, County Commissioners directed staff to look east for a new government facility to help meet space needs and to more efficiently respond to service requests.

The $32.5 million acquisition will be funded half through the County’s reserves ($16.8 million) from the County’s Utility Department ($15.7 million). The purchase price of the land is $187,488 per acre.

One of the site’s first uses will be for a new law enforcement fleet maintenance facility, allowing the Sheriff to move out of and liquidate an extremely cramped quarters off Florida Boulevard in Southwest County that has been MSO’s fleet maintenance facility since 1983. The site will provide space for a new and appropriately sized property and evidence warehouse. Those two needs were the Sheriff’s top facility requests identified as part of the Infrastructure Sales Tax education campaign.

“This is just about building something that should have been built 10 years ago,” Manatee Sheriff Rick Wells told Commissioners today. “The property itself is a good location because it will service the needs of our day-to-day fleet operations and it will be easier for my deputies to go to that location.”

  • The Sheriff's Office plans to use the site as a district office to replace its current leased location near the Cracker Barrel off S.R. 64 and I-75. MSO would also use the new space for evidence & records storage, fleet garage, and vehicle/equipment storage. The district office is expected to serve as MSO’s control center and shelter in the event of hurricanes given the limited space in the County’s Public Safety Center/EOC. The property is expected to accommodate approximately 100 cruisers in various stages of maintenance that today are located on a one acre parcel off Florida Boulevard which has been MSO’s fleet maintenance headquarters for nearly 40 years.
  • The Public Works Department will use the site as a field operations maintenance facility for field crews, road maintenance materials, equipment and warehouse storage. Public Works may also replace its aging and constrained 26th Avenue Fleet Maintenance facility with one located on this property in the future.
  • The Utilities Department planned uses include a field operations facility for water distribution, meter readers, wastewater collection, and underground locator crews, equipment and materials storage, and a warehouse. The Department may also place an enclosed solid waste transfer station in the southeastern area of the property, to facilitate the future closing of the Lena Road Landfill.
  • An EMS Station may also be located at this site if determined to be a future need.

“This is a win, win, win from a cost perspective, from a community impact perspective and county workers’ perspective,” said Commissioner Reggie Bellamy.

“The price is very fair, but when you look at the property around it will pay huge dividends,” said Utilities Director Mike Gore who said the purchase allows the County to extend the life of the Lena Road Landfill. “It’s going to satisfy three, possibly four departments’ needs going forward. This is a huge win for us as compared to traveling all the way across town.”

“(Commissioners) have had a history of making big, bold decisions when necessary,” said Commissioner Priscilla Trace. “These are tough decisions, but if we do this today, 50 years from now, they’ll still be working out of this new site.”