In June 2021, Riverstone stated publicly that it had an offer for at least $70 million from a condominium developer. That is far more than any resources currently available to Nassau County for acquiring conservation land.
Last November the voters approved a bond issue for $30 million to purchase conservation land in the county. This came after years of work to get the matter on the ballot. All those funds have now been committed to other parcels in the county. Land in other locations was found to provide greater value for the taxpayers’ money. Although Riverstone was considered in the allocation process, it ranked far below the other alternatives available. The Riverstone parcel is very expensive and relatively small.
That is the essential problem with government at any level, a private benefactor, or even the North Florida Land Trust acquiring the Riverstone property for conservation purposes. Anyone with $70 million to spend on land conservation is immediately confronted with a robust menu of better places to spend the money. Substantial acreage can be acquired elsewhere. The Riverstone property is only 50 acres, with adjacent parkland and beaches already available.
One of the speakers at the April 24 meeting noted that the Florida legislature was considering appropriating $100 million for land conservation across the entire state. The likelihood that most of those funds could be spent to acquire just 50 acres in Nassau County is very small. There are many other locations where substantially more conservation land could be acquired for fewer dollars.