Pasco ‘super park’ land near Dade City

Pasco County recently purchased 155 acres for a proposed “super park” at The Villages of Pasadena, off Prospect Road and Highland Boulevard, near Dade City.

The acreage is conservation land that is the second purchase of a three-phase acquisition process. When complete, the county will have nearly 320 acres for the super park.

Because the 155 acres will remain natural and be used for passive recreation, the $4.6 million purchase price will come from the Penny for Pasco funds set aside for the county’s Environmental Land Acquisition and Management Program (ELAMP).

However, the sale will be treated as a loan, with repayment in the form of park impact fees. Those fees will be collected from new residential and commercial development at The Villages master-planned community.

Also, new development within the Connected City corridor, including the master-planned community of Epperson, will contribute their share of park impact fees for the super park. A road is expected to link Connected City to the super park in The Villages.

“The county is still in the acquisition phase,” said Keith Wiley, the county’s parks, recreation and natural resources director.

Capital funds to design and build the park aren’t available as yet. The final land purchase of about 95 acres also must be negotiated, and approved by the Pasco County commissioners.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Wiley said.

The inclusion of Connected City as a contributor of impact fees for the park should help in getting the needed funds, he added.

Pasco County commissioners approved the newest purchase in December. The sale closed in January.

When the park is built, it will essentially result in two parks that are the size of district parks, next to each other.

One will be kept in its natural state for passive recreation, such as walking trails and kayaking. It will provide access to Buddy Lake.

The other will be an “active” park with ball fields, playgrounds, trails and other amenities.

There also are plans to co-locate the active park area with a planned elementary school. Co-location is a trend, as the county seeks to make the most efficient use of funds.

The recently opened Starkey Ranch District Park, at Starkey Ranch, is an example of co-location. It was built in partnership with Pasco County Schools, which plans to build an elementary and middle school at the site.

Published March 14, 2018

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