Grady County officials are looking to renegotiate the terms of engagement for a Grady County Lake Authority consultant and action on a new agreement could come as soon as May 5, according to Grady County Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III.
At the request of Grady County Commissioner June Knight, a meeting was scheduled for April 22 between the county and consultant Will Butler. Also taking part in the meeting was Grady County Commission Vice Chairman Phillip Drew, but no representative of the lake authority was invited, according to Johnson.
The county administrator said that over time the original scope of services provided by Butler had changed. Originally engaged to guide the authority through the process of attracting potential developers for Tired Creek Lake and coordinating negotiations with potential developers, Butler has seen the demand for his services and contact expand to serve as a liaison between Grady County and the Leon County, Florida Board of Commissioners among other things.
Without suitable utility infrastructure at the lake currently and the ongoing pandemic, talks with potential developers have ground to a halt.
“Commissioner Knight’s concerns are spot on and we should revisit the future relationship between the county and Mr. Butler,” Johnson said.
Johnson has noted publicly in the past and again at last week’s meeting the invaluable contributions of Butler in fostering a working relationship between Leon and Grady counties.
According to the county administrator, Butler has also worked closely with attorney Laura Benz on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues related to the lake, potential revisions to the lake management plan and has also been active in discussions with a group experienced in recreational vehicle parks. Butler has also been instrumental in arranging for Tired Creek Lake and other local amenities to be marketed by Leon County’s tourism division. According to Butler, Leon County is looking at regional opportunities for tourism and has a significant budget to help market the 960-acre lake as well as other local attractions such as the Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve and more.
Johnson reports that Butler was open to new terms of engagement and consented to working with the county on an “as-needed” basis.
Both Knight and Drew reportedly said that due to the pandemic county revenues were likely to be impacted and could slow the progress of developing the lake.
Commissioner Knight also requested that Butler arrange an introduction with Leon County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge, who is a close friend of Butler’s, which the lake consultant agreed to do.
Johnson said he anticipates receiving a proposal from Butler this week and he anticipates the county commission could take up the plan at its May 5 meeting.
While no representatives of the lake authority were included in last week’s discussion, Johnson said that Butler’s new scope of services would be sent to the authority for its “review and input and then back” to Butler to finalize before coming before the county commission.
“The new scope of work will likely place Butler working jointly with the Commissioners and the Lake Authority rather than exclusively with the Lake Authority,” Johnson said.
“We need and want to keep Will Butler on our team and involved in this lake project,” Johnson told The Messenger this week.
Butler has served as a consultant to the lake authority since April 2017. In January 2018, the county commission approved a recommendation from the authority to retain Butler on a month-to-month basis at a fee of $5,750 per month, which has been the agreement to-date.
Butler has worked in real estate since 1981 and has specialized in real estate asset management since 1999. In addition to the Grady County Lake Authority, his clients include the City of Tallahassee, Leon County, Florida State University and others.
For a time, he worked with the St. Joe Company and was involved in the River Camps and White Fence Farms projects. He most recently has been involved in the College Town development for the FSU Boosters in Tallahassee.