Park or homes? Boynton makes a decision on land next to Leisureville

2:11 p.m Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 Local
Boynton Beach plans to sell more than three acres valued at about $271,000 to a community adjacent to the land for use as a park and for recreation instead of Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach, which would build homes for low-income families.

Boynton Beach plans to sell more than 3 acres valued at about $271,000 to a community adjacent to the land for use as a park and for recreation instead of Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach, which would have built homes for low-income families.

Palm Beach Leisureville, a 55-and-older community, will pay the city $24,999. Habitat, which has built several homes in the city, offered $50,000.

Officials said they thought Leisureville needed the open space and the land was intended for a similar use.

Boynton received the land south of Boynton Beach Boulevard in 1990 as part of a deed connected to a separate project. The land was to be used for recreation, but the city’s staff said the parcel wasn’t easily accessible for the public, according to city documents. The developer told the city it could use the land as it wanted.

Some commissioners were torn. Vice Mayor Justin Katz said a perfect situation would be having some houses built on a portion of the land. Commissioner Christina Romelus said she is usually an advocate for affordable housing but sees the majority of the board leaning toward Leisureville.

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Leisureville residents attended the commission meeting this past week where officials made the decision to go with them. Resident Shirley Cassa, who attended the meeting, said the community’s plan would be “waking up a sleepy small lot just next to our community.”

Boynton’s officials want to have the final say over the site plan and construction timeline for the park.

While Habitat and Leisureville made formal offers to Boynton, the city also received interest from home builders who wanted to subdivide the land.

Leisureville is planning a pavilion, walking trail, boccie ball and pickle ball courts and a dog park or walk area. The park would be open from dawn to dusk and gated to ensure the facility is closed at night.

Habitat said the nonprofit would have built 11 single-family homes, each either three or four bedrooms with two baths and a garage. The homes were planned to appraise for between $225,000 and $250,000.