Purchase of Camp Wewa finalized with City Council vote

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In a quick vote that generated little discussion, the Apopka City Council gave final approval to the contract to purchase of Camp Wewa from the Central Florida YMCA for $4.7 million. As was the case in a vote in June, Commissioner Doug Bankson was the lone negative vote with the purchase passing 4-1.

The city plans to revitalize the nearly 80-year-old property and plans to keep operating it as a summer overnight camp for youngsters from around Central Florida, as well as open it to Apopka residents for use of its facilities such as the pool, outdoor basketball court, and other amenities, including two lakes.

The deal comes after back-and-forth appraisals that saw the appraisers for the city and the YMCA originally disagree over the number of usable acres on the property and the value of each acre. Apopka’s appraiser originally said there were 50-1/2 acres that could be used due to wetlands and lakes, and that the value per acre was $83,218 for a total of $4.2 million. The YMCA’s appraiser, meanwhile, said there were 59-1/2 usable acres and that the value for each acre was $99,950, making the property worth $5.96 million.

After each appraiser re-evaluated the property, the city’s appraiser agreed with the YMCA’s appraiser regarding the number of usable acres and the YMCA’s appraiser reduced the value per acre with the entities’ appraisers agreeing on the value of $4.7 million for the camp.

At the June meeting, Edward Bass, city administrator, said the city would realize $1.3 million from the sale of city-owned property at the southeast corner of Park Avenue and Sandpiper Street, $475,000 from the sale of the Orlando Apopka airport fixed base operations, $1 million from a state grant, $1.185 million from a lump sum payment from Duke Energy for incorrect collection of utility taxes, and $1 million from Parks and Recreation Department impact fees.

There are also about $2 million in upgrades and improvements needed to the facilities, city staff says.

Bass said that the city may have to pull funds from reserves as the purchase of Camp Wewa will likely come before the grant dollars are in the city’s coffers.

Because the finances of the Central Florida YMCA have been drastically affected by the pandemic, the YMCA originally looked to sell the Camp Wewa property to a developer, but when a YMCA official called Mayor Bryan Nelson to tell him about the YMCA’s need to sell the property, Nelson brought it before the City Council at its January 20 meeting. There, city commissioners gave their blessing for the mayor to look further into the matter without committing to the purchase.

To learn more about what happened at the July 21 City Council meeting, read the story in full beginning on page 1A of the Friday, July 23, issue of The Apopka Chief.

The Apopka Chief and The Planter are weekly community newspapers, independently owned and family operated, that have served the greater Apopka area in Central Florida since 1923 and 1965 respectively. Subscribe today!