Dade County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley has called a special called joint meeting of the Dade Water Authority Board of Directors, or so-called "water board," and the Dade County Board of Commissioners, for Monday, Nov. 26, at 5 p.m.
(Photo: A view of the creekfront property the Dade commission wishes to buy from Jack Sells.)
"The purpose of this meeting is to discuss and consider for approval acquiring property from Wallace Jack Sells for further development of a future reservoir and lake," read an announcement of the meeting by County Clerk Don Townsend.
Rumley had spoken of such a meeting several months ago. Then, in its October meeting, the water board had conferred first with Rumley himself and then with two of the four district commissioners in two separate executive, or closed-door, sessions, firing speculation that any joint meetings between the two entities would be similarly secret--for the past three months, the water board itself has conducted virtually all its business in executive sessions rather than open meetings.
The water board had sought and obtained approval of a $450,000 loan to pay the balance of the $500,000 price tag on Jack Sells' 60-plus-acre tract on Lookout Creek, which the county commission had optioned for $50,000 in June 2017 and then extended its contract on this year for an additional $25,000 in grant money. The original idea, as explained by Rumley in June 2017, was to acquire enough in grants to purchase the land; and the original intent of the water board, as explained when it sought the loan, was for the proceeds to make up the difference between selling price and what could be gathered in grants. The water board had vowed not to use any more of the $450K than was needed for the purchase, nor to authorize use of the money at all without a vote to that purpose.
Public interest in the reservoir project has been intense, and has been frustrated by the water board's wall of secrecy. Now, perhaps, that curiosity may at length be satisfied. The meeting will be in the meeting room of the Dade Administrative Building.