Daytona Beach city commissioners will decide at their meeting Wednesday night whether to get into a deal to sell fill dirt off a city property that could raise more than $2 million for First Step Shelter construction costs.
DAYTONA BEACH — Facing pressure over the $6 million cost to build First Step Shelter, city officials have come up with a plan to sell dirt — yes, dirt — to lop off at least $2.13 million of the project’s cost.
Among the key questions: Is the city’s plan to sell the dirt for $1.50 per cubic yard enough? That same dirt could sell on the open market for $5-to-$10 per cubic yard, others who buy and sell dirt told The News-Journal.
The proposed deal is on the City Commission’s consent agenda Wednesday night, meaning it will be approved without any public discussion if the mayor or one of the commissioners doesn’t ask to move it to later in the meeting when they can talk about it before voting.
The plan top city staff have worked out is to partially pay one of the contractors doing site work for the 15,000-square-foot shelter, P&S Paving, in dirt rather than dollars. The proposed agreement would give Daytona Beach taxpayers a break on the shelter bill. The dirt could also be worth somewhere between $7 million and $14 million for P&S if it sold the fill.
The 100-bed shelter is being built on a 10-acre site that is part of 626 acres of undeveloped city property between International Speedway Boulevard and Interstate 4. With the hundreds of vacant acres around the 10-acre shelter site not being used for anything, the city has offered to let P&S Paving dig a 40-acre retention pond and keep the estimated 1.42 million cubic yards of dirt that would be scooped from it.
The massive retention pond would span a surface of 1.74 million square feet — the space of 30 football fields — and would be about 22 feet deep.
P&S would pay the city $1.50 per cubic yard if the salvage rights deal is approved by commissioners and agencies such as the St. Johns River Water Management District that would need to issue permits to allow the excavation.
Those who buy and sell fill dirt in Volusia County for roads, housing developments and commercial projects estimate P&S could sell the soil for as much as $7-$10 per cubic yard. Or, the company could use the dirt as fill for its own projects. Local businesses that sell fill for smaller landscaping uses say they can get as much as $15 to $16 per cubic yard. A cubic yard is a unit of volume equal to a cube one yard long on each side.
The agreement also leaves the door open to P&S digging at least one more retention pond on the city land five miles west of Interstate 95, although the company would have to pay a higher rate of $2 per cubic yard for the additional dirt. The city manager would have the final word on whether P&S would dig more than one pond, and what the location and configuration of all the ponds would be.
P&S President Tim Phillips, who’s also a member of the CEO Alliance, signed the agreement last week. He did not return a call this
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