Osteen wants county to move NE 55th Avenue
By John M. Ayers
On Monday Gilchrist County Commissioners heard a long time Gilchrist County native ask if they would move NE 55th Avenue off of his property and over onto the section line.
J. B. Osteen attended the meeting with his daughter Nina Salmi and her husband Carl Salmi of High Springs.
“I want my land that is tied up in this right-of-way,” Osteen explained.
The commission is now dealing with a situation that is often the case involving roads and right of ways. When the grades were put in place, they were often put along old fence lines or where it was the easiest to establish the right of way. Osteen told the board that this one-half mile of county grade was established in 1952-1953. This road takes up six acres that he or his family can’t use until they get the road straightened out.
The commission asked Transportation Superintendent Billy Cannon to give them information on the estimates he found involving the road.
“At the present time the county grade has right of way that is an estimated 36 feet in some places. If the county were to move the road over to the section line, the new road would now have to have a minimum of 60 feet right of way,” Cannon explained to the commissioners.
The superintendent reported that he met with engineer Lee Mills and the moving of the road would cost an estimated $240,000.
Osteen told the board that one end of the road is 18 feet wide and it widens up to 30 feet. Osteen explained that his daughter was with him at the meeting because she is going to receive the estimated six acres of property.
“The land on the other side of the road is no good to us if we can’t get the road moved,” Nina Salmi told the board.
“There are many roads in Gilchrist County that are just like this one that are off of the section line,” Commission Chairman D. Ray Harrison, Jr. explained.
“I understand what you are asking for and what you want, but the county is unable to bear these expenses at this time,” Commissioner Tommy Langford explained.
Many years ago the county could have just had the road department take care of this project in house without any engineering or permitting expenses. Today this type of project has to be permitted through the Suwannee River Water Management District.
Engineering and storm water retention areas have to be identified as a part of the pre project, County Administrator Ron McQueen explained to the commission.
“If there was any way we could do this project we would, but at this time we just don’t have the money to spend on this type of project,” Commissioner Kenrick Thomas explained.
Commissioner Sharon Langford also said that the county just can’t afford to take on such a project at this time.
Commissioner Randy Durden told the commission that the State of Florida is providing small counties with information that could cost Gilchrist County between $750,000 and $1.25 million in loss of state revenue in this budget year.
Commissioner Durden went on to say that maybe the county can look at this project in the future and reassess the expenses involved.
Osteen presented the county commission with a deed involving the described property. Gilchrist County attorney John McPherson explained that the board does not have to act on this request necessarily at this present time. The commission agreed that Gilchrist County could not afford to take on this project, but would consider the movement of the road when economic conditions improve.
Osteen told the commission, “This is not the last you will be hearing from me involving this road issue; I will be back.”