County commissioners Tuesday agreed to send a letter to the real estate agent marketing the Pirate’s Cove waterfront property at the west end of Ozello Trail, expressing interest in obtaining appraisals to potentially buy it.
But before spending money on appraisals, commissioners want to be sure the property has a clear title and is free of liens or other encumbrances.
The property was once home to Pirate’s Cove, a restaurant/motel that was destroyed in the March 1993 “no name” storm.
George Decker, who bought the Pirate’s Cove property in 2004 for $464,000, died in 2019. His heirs want to sell it and have hired a real estate agent to market the site.
Pirate's Cove sits on 3.6 acres, boasts 750 feet of water frontage and the asking price is $825,000. The site includes about a half-acre of commercial land.
The property’s value is $193,850, according to the Realtor listing. It's next to the county boat ramp on Pirate Point and Sanddollar Lane, where Ozello Trail comes to an end 10 miles west of U.S. 19.
Commissioners agreed Pirate’s Cove is desirable because of its location and possible use for park activities. It sits near a county boat ramp at the St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve.
“This is a property that truly is special,” said County Commissioner Jeff Kinnard, who broached the issue. “It abuts one of the existing parks and a boat ramp. Ultimately, if we’re able to secure this property, it would increase the size of that waterfront park right on the border of the preserve there. This is something the Ozello community supports.
“Let’s see what the appraisals come back at then we can have staff go to work on finding grant money from the state (for) acquiring the property,” Kinnard said.
Decker was unsuccessful in his attempts to receive county approval for resort condominiums on the site when he bought it in 2014.
“This is one of the most unique properties in the state of Florida,” Ozello resident Cecelia Treat told commissioners Tuesday.
County Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. said he’s not averse to getting appraisals, but cautioned the board to remember a similar situation it found itself in back in 2017 when a group of Homosassa residents asked for assistance in securing funding to buy property along the Homosassa River for a park.
Citrus County commissioners offered support, but said they would not put any county taxes into the plan.
The county received a state legislative appropriation of $850,000. The county, and a citizens’ group, soon learned the appropriation would only be enough to cover about half the costs of buying the property and the board ended up returning the $850,000 to the state in 2019.
“Why treat (the Pirate’s Cove) property differently from what we told the folks at old Homosassa when we said we wouldn’t spend tax dollars on a park,” Kitchen said.
Kitchen said county policy must be consistent when it comes to attaining properties and, besides, he hasn’t heard “a huge outcry” from people saying they need more park space in Ozello.
“Even if the property appraisals come in at reasonable prices,” Kitchen questioned whether it would be prudent to take the property off the tax rolls.
Commissioner Ruthie Davis Schlabach said it wouldn’t hurt to at least get appraisals and find out if buying the property is even worth the effort.
”We don’t know what we don’t know,” she said.