CK to County: not interested in dock

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

What if you built a large fishing dock that sits high above the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and no one wanted to own it?

That's the case with Cedar Key's “Big Dock.” 

The Levy County Commission which handled getting it built using Federal Emergency Management Agency money after a hurricane wiped out the old wooden dock wants the city to take it over. 

FEMA required that the new dock be made of concrete and that it sit high enough above the water to prevent it from being smashed by future hurricanes. Problem is no one can tie a boat up to the towering dock the way they once did with the old dock. 

In its Aug. 6 meeting the County Commission agreed to send a letter to the city asking for discussions about the Interlocal Agreement signed by county and the city officials in 2007.

The contract calls for the city to take over maintenance and operation of the dock, George T. Lewis Airport and various roads within the city. The agreement was made after the formation of the Cedar Key Community Redevelopment Area which funnels taxes collected on the increased value of properties from the county into a CRA trust fund to be spent on improvement projects.

County Commissioner Fred Moody told the county commission at its Sept. 17 meeting that the city is not interested in the responsibility. 

“The main thing was the big dock,” Moody said. “But after running into a city commissioner or two I got the feeling that they just want to rescind it entirely.”

He later added: “They didn't want to take on any more acquisitions at the moment.”

County Commissioner Ryan Bell of Chiefland (R-District 4), who represents Cedar Key on the commission, said, “It's not going to benefit our county if they don't have the money and they don't do that. We've done the airport and there's no reason to relinquish that.”

Bell said there is one question for the county to answer: “How can we make it income producing?”

Later Bell said, “If we make it an income generating thing they would be all over that.”

But the county could find itself in a bind as FEMA funding for the reconstruction puts limits on charging the public for use or even having a concession stand. 

County Attorney Anne Bast Brown weighed in reminding the county commission that the dock sits on submerged land leased from the state and there may be restrictions on what they can do at the state level as well. 

Commissioner Danny Stevens of Williston (R-District 5) made a suggestion that the commission took.

“I would suggest us not doing anything with this and one year resubmitting,” Stevens said. “We fulfilled our obligations. I want to stand firm in saying we upheld our end of the agreement, but we want you to take (responsibility).”

Moody said the cedar Key Police Department does monitor and look after the dock and the water board provides maintenance services. 

In the meantime, the county attorney will check agreements to see if there are restrictions on income producing activities.