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Pinellas School Board hoping to quiet any claims to valuable abandoned school grounds

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The School Board of Pinellas County is taking some preemptive measures to secure its claim to the abandoned Palm Harbor Elementary school grounds.

A court action was filed on April 22 by school board attorneys to essentially guarantee that the Pinellas County School Board be recognized as the true owner of the land and property located at 415 15th St., Palm Harbor, where PHE (originally known as Palm Harbor Junior High School) used to operate.

Public records show that Pinellas’ school board obtained the deed to the property on May 3, 1926, from Palm Harbor Development Company.

However, stipulations were written into the deed which, if not met by the school board, are supposed to result in the property being returned to its previous owner.

Those stipulations included that the school is built at a cost no lower than $150,000, and that the school board never fail to provide for and maintain the school.

The school board may be in violation of both of those terms, though, since PHE was closed after the 2008-09 school year, and since — according to an  article published June 15, 1928, in the now defunct Evening Independent — the school was built for just under $76,500.

Realizing these deed stipulations might present a problem, Pinellas County School Superintendent Michael Greco notified the school board of the situation last year.

However, since then, the defendant, Palm Harbor Development Company — who, according to the Secretary of State’s Division of Corporations, is no longer an active corporation — has not brought forward any suit for the recovery of the property.

The school board contends that its personnel has tried but failed to identify any successors of Palm Harbor Development Company.

The land on which the school used to sit now has an estimated value of just under $3.2 million, according to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser.   

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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