JCC Board defers action on Eco Discovery Park

The future of Eco Discovery Park is uncertain after the Board of Supervisors deferred action on a plan to sell the Jamestown Yacht Basin Tuesday night.

After a lengthy public hearing reviewing three offers to buy the land, which was  purchased by the county in 2006, supervisors, led by Jim Kennedy, said they needed more information.

Eco Discovery Park has operated on the property for the past three years.

The first proposal, from park owner Steve Rose, was for $500,000, and would include expansion of conservation efforts on the historic property near the Jamestown Scotland Ferry.  The second offer, from real estate investor John Franklin, was for $650,000, but did not list many specifics as to what the land would be used for.

An eleventh hour proposal, from Swan Landing L.L.C. , for $825,000 would lead to the development of 65 to 70 townhomes as well as three restaurants and other development, according to Adam Kinsman, assistant county administrator for James City.

More than 80 boat slips are located in the park. Doug McKenzie, spoke on behalf of boat slip users endorsing the property staying with Rose.

"Steve Rose and his staff are a top notch organization at this marina," McKenzie said.

"The consensus of our slipholders is the county should vote affirmatively to pass the marina to Steve Rose and leave it in his confident capable hands."

Supervisor Mary Jones said she had concerns that the county was not receiving the full value of the property, which is purchased for more than $12 million. A recent county assessment pegged the value of the park at closer to $3.5 million.

"I’m not convinced we’ve done an adequate job in marketing this property," Jones said.

Neither of the parties who submitted alternate proposals showed up at the hearing. Kennedy said he wanted additional information from county staff, including a comparative economic analysis of the proposals.

Kennedy said he wanted more time to review the late proposal, although he said he wasn't enthused at the prospect of major development on the property. He said he was also concerned at Rose's methodology for buying the property, including selling off conservation easements. Kennedy asked whether or not that was a better task for the county.

Eco Discovery Park's lease ended in March and the park got a 30 day extension from the county to operate. Kennedy asked Rose if he would be willing to operate for 90 additional days while follow up information is prepared by county staff.

But Rose stood firm, saying the park has had an offer on the table to buy the park since 2013, and he would need a decision to be made. I think we need to go back as a group and discuss this further, and weigh all those odds and put it all together.

"I think we need to go back as a group and discuss this further, and weigh all those odds and put it all together,"said JCC Board Chairman Michael Hipple.

Afterward Rose said he was disappointed the board didn't make a decision on the sale of the property. He said for now the park plans on closing at the end of the month. But he said he would discuss with the park's board the possibility of the 90 day extension or whether ot keep the $500,000 offer on the table.

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