Company offers help with grants

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By Jeff M. Hardison

BRONSON - A company known as Synergy Solutions for Florida wants to add Levy County to its list of communities involved in the Florida Community Trust (FCT) program.

Richard Rubin and John Canada of Synergy Solutions said their work would cost the county nothing as they applied for the $66 million available from the state in the next two years to add land to the state's green space inventory.

Counties and cities compete for FCT funds, Rubin said, and his company has a great track record of success. He mentioned the Horseshoe Beach Marina being a recent acquisition for Dixie County, thanks to work by Synergy Solutions.

Saving the fishing village from becoming less covered by condominiums is a positive outcome from the FCT program, Rubin said.

Gilchrist County, Suwannee County and Live Oak are other clients of this company, he said.

The property seller, Rubin said, pays his company a commission. The county only pays to prepare appraisals, surveys and environmental audits if the sale fails to go through.

Prices of $15,000 to $9,900 were mentioned as a per-site fee the county would pay if the land sales fell through. On deals where the state bought the land for the county, the sale would be 100 percent funded.

Commissioner Lilly Rooks asked if Synergy Solutions also buys conservation easements. Rubin said it does. In this type of arrangement, the land remains on the tax rolls. This is in contrast with public lands, which are removed from tax rolls.

Levy County Commission Chairman Sammy Yearty said the program sounds "very interesting" and that the county will consider it "probably favorably."

Rubin said the state wants to preserve some of its natural resources from the blemishes of growth for the enjoyment of the people, in perpetuity.

His company identified 12 sites after a quick review of locations next to bodies of water or parks in Levy County. These locations, he said, are just first-brush, preliminary places to consider.

Among the 12 sites first noted by Synergy Solutions of Florida for purchase by FCT were the Devil's Den, near Williston; the old Florida Rock mine in Gulf Hammock; the Cedar Key Bay front; the east side of the Suwannee River between Manatee Springs State park and Andrews Wildlife Management Area; Waccassa Park and Boat Ramp; and three sites along the Withlacoochee River in the Yankeetown-Inglis area.

Rubin said he appreciates the help given to him by Levy County Parks and Recreation Director Matt Weldon and his staff as the company began preliminary reviews of potential purchases.

The commission took no action Dec. 18 on the request from Rubin and Canada.