Local News

NU-HOPE seeks LP town property for thrift store expansion

LAKE PLACID — NU-HOPE Elder Care Services hopes to receive a donation of town property to expand its thrift store, which prompted council discussion on the procedures for disposing of town property.

NU-HOPE relies on federal and state grants, which require a local match of more than $300,000 annually, according to NU-HOPE Executive Director Ingra Gardner. Expanding NU-HOPE’s Lake Placid thrift store will generate additional matching funds that will enable the agency to serve people who are on waiting lists.

The property the agency seeks from the town would be used for the expansion of the thrift store, which is located at 103 S. Main Ave.

At Monday’s council meeting, Councilwoman Arlene Tuck noted that Hoz Compton donated the property to the town a number of years ago.

“The town did not pay for the property; the town has never paid anything for that property,” she said.

Tuck made a motion to donate the property to NU-HOPE, noting that Compton approves of the donation.

Councilwoman Debora Worley seconded the motion, noting that NU-HOPE provided her with a lot of help when her mother was suffering from dementia.

Mayor John Holbrook said, “The town wants to be good neighbors and we appreciate all you do for us.”

Councilman Ray Royce asked if the town may have a use for the property in the future for water retention or storm water drainage.

Public Works Director John Komasa said the property was not needed for drainage and was too small for a parking lot.

Steve Bastardi said he supports what NU-HOPE is doing, but he wanted to know the town’s official policy regarding property or any unneeded asset.

“I can’t vote for it,” he said. “It seems like an odd position. Just petition the town for an asset and then go ahead and have it.”

How could the council turn down future requests? Bastardi asked.

Holbrook said similar requests would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

NU-HOPE Board of Directors Member Michael Noel said the agency provides about $20,000 of services per individual. If the county provided the same services it would likely cost $60,000.

Bastardi said it didn’t matter if the agency saved the county “a billion dollars or a trillion, this opens me up to endless conversations about how assets of the town are dispersed.”

Royce suggested, and council agreed, that town staff should provide council with the appropriate procedure to transfer the ownership of the property.

Harris said Tuesday that the town’s charter requires an ordinance for any conveyance of land.

“So town council directed me to prepare an ordinance for consideration, so it will go through the regular two public hearings” he said.

Harris said he was checking if there are any requirements that would pertain to the disposition of the property.

The Highlands County Property Appraiser shows the property’s total land value as $14,250.

In other action, the town council voted 3-2 to allow the Lake Placid Jaycees to sell beer at the upcoming (July 25 and 26) Caladium Festival as a fundraiser in both Stuart and Devane parks. Those attending the festival would be able to move about the entire area within either park with the purchased beer.

Tuck and Bastardi voted against the request while Royce and Worley voted to approve the Jaycees request. Holbrook broke the tie with a “yes” vote.

Tuck said she didn’t have a problem with Devane Park, but a lot families go to Stuart Park during the festival so it should only be allowed in “a certain little area.”

Bastardi said, “it seems like it should be contained within a relatively confined area within each one of those parks.”

Holbrook said the town should give the Jaycees “the latitude to try it.”


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