NEWS

City leaders leery of taking over private road

Matt Algarin

City leaders say taking over a private, deteriorated road wouldn’t be in their best interest, nor would it be fair to have taxpayers foot the bill for repairs.

“We need to resolve this issue,” City Manager Greg Kisela said. “The road hasn’t gotten better with age; we need to bring it up to standard.”

During Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, Tracie Martin from The CAM Firm in Destin asked city leaders to consider taking over Regions Way, a stretch of road that winds from U.S. Hwy. 98 near Waffle House to Crystal Beach Drive.

According to information from the Okaloosa County Property Appraiser's website, the roadway is currently owned by Regions Way of Destin LLC. The company is listed as inactive, according to Sunbiz.org, the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations website.

Martin told the council that the owners haven’t paid taxes on the property in three years. She said the homeowners association at The Villages of Crystal Beach, which uses the road as an access point, has been footing the bill for much needed repairs.

Given the road’s current condition, Kisela told the council it would cost the city at least $150,000 to bring the road up to standard. He said the solution may lie in a special assessment, where the affected parties could pay for the road to be repaired over a period of time, and then they could turn the road over to the city once it’s repaired.

“We’ll have to work through who is specially assessed,” he said. “We know how to do it, we just have to work with the affected property owners.”

“It’s a little tricky as we work our way through it,” Kisela added.

Martin wasn’t fond of the proposal, telling The Log that the owners in The Villages of Crystal Beach shouldn’t have to be responsible for funding the repairs, as the roadway is used by others as well.

“The fact remains that it’s not our road. Why do those owners who happen to live by it have to special assessed when tons of motorists use that road?” she wrote in an email. “The city seemed to cough up a couple million dollars to stop a strip club. How many roads would that have fixed?”

Representatives from the homeowners association and city staff will further discuss their options before coming to a decision.

While he was empathetic to the situation, Councilman Tuffy Dixon told Martin that the city wants to help, but funding is always a challenge.

“We can’t fix the roads that we have right now,” he said. “I certainly want to work with the people the best we could.”