New Harbor Branch purchase approved

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new purchase agreement for 134.74 acres in St. Lucie County from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution Foundation.

The purchase of land along Indian River Lagoon for $18 million was approved last May. But approval of a new purchase agreement was needed Wednesday because of uncertainty about access to the property across a set of railroad tracks.

The Legislature in 2008 provided a separate appropriation of $18 million that was used to make the purchase.

DEP Secretary Michael Sole told reporters there was no direction from the Legislature to buy the Harbor Branch property with the $18 million.

“Every deal needs to be looked at holistically as to the benefits to Florida,” Sole told reporters. “In this case, Harbor Branch was a great one.”

(Copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)