By Jeff Sehweers, FLORIDA TODAY
MELBOURNE, FL — State transportation officials have struck a deal to buy the property of Brevard County’s only clinic that performs abortions.
The Department of Transportation has agreed to pay $242,500 for the Aware Woman Center for Choice site to make room for widening U.S. 1 from Aurora Road north to Post Road. The state originally appraised the land and building at $198,000.
Owners of the clinic have until Aug. 14 to find a new location and move out of the pink building at U.S. 1 and Dixie Way in north Melbourne.
Patricia Baird-Windle, coowner of the 22-year-old clinic, said that when a new site is found, she will not disclose the address until after the move.
“Moving is no more than an annoyance for most people,” she said. “But we have to go through the paranoia of all this, and use extraordinary caution.”
For example, the clinic is buying new furniture from suppliers outside Brevard.
Baird-Windle has been looking for new locations from Wabasso in Indian River County north to Port St. John and east to Cape Canaveral. “My choice is nothing more than the best possible building,” she said.
The Aware Woman clinic has been a focus of the national prolife movement’s efforts. The clinic still attracts protesters on the two days a week surgeries are scheduled, Baird-Windle said.
The state plans to spend $10 million buying rights of way along U.S. 1 for the 2.8-mile road-widening project. Construction, which is expected to begin in mid- 2000, will cost about $9 million, DOT spokesman Steve Homart said. A second phase from Post Road north to the Pineda Causeway will cost an estimated at $27 million, including rights-of-way acquisition.
DOT rights-of-way specialist Jim Clark said the state is trying to buy 40 parcels but so far has settled on only a handful. The state is taking the remaining property owners to court.
Others that must relocate for the road project include the Lynn Haven Motel, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of Brevard County.