City officials have asked a local title company to review the ownership of the waterfront strip along Bayshore Boulevard where the Jose Gasparilla, flagship of the annual Gasparilla festival, is docked.
The city has leased dock space to Ye Mystic Krewe for 35 years, despite having no clear claim to the state-owned parcel. The parcel, known as 1 Bayshore Blvd., turned up recently on a roster of more than 1,000 pieces of land the state is trying to sell.
That list ranges from a 106-acre agricultural site in Ruskin to scattered fragments neighbors may have long assumed to be theirs, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Like the Bayshore parcel, more than hundreds of the parcels up for sale have been in state hands since the Great Depression.
State officials are asking $735,000 for the Bayshore land. They've offered to sell the property to the city at market rate or give the city a 50-year easement to use the property. City officials have rejected both options.
City real estate manager Herb Fecker disputes the state's claim to the land. But so far he has been unable to show any documentation that would establish the city's claim. That would let the city take possession of the land for free.
"We cannot conclude that we own it," Fecker said. "We can't conclude that we don't own it."
The title search will be conducted under an existing contract with a local title company, Fecker said. The exact cost of the work is still being worked out, he said. The company will trace the history of the Bayshore property, which appears to have come into state hands after the previous owners fell behind on their taxes in the 1920s.
The strip was originally part of Beach Place, a subdivision platted in 1897. Today, the strip includes a public parking lot, the recently restore balustrade and a public sidewalk.