Ownership agreement reached on Hercules Park

The city of Zephyrhills and the Pasco County School Board are ready to complete a deal that will deed part of Hercules Park to the city.

A gate and a stop sign block entry into Hercules Park in Zephyrhills. About 9 acres is expected to be deeded to the city, so that the park can be reopened.

The Zephyrhills City Council approved an inter-local agreement with the school district on June 25. The agreement will be presented to school board members on July 24.

If approved, Zephyrhills would own about 9 acres of the approximately 15-acre park, off Gall Boulevard.

“We’re glad. We’re happy,” Zephyrhills City Manager Steve Spina said.

Negotiations have been ongoing with school district officials for years on the park’s fate.

The park land is a legacy from about 80 acres once owned by the Hercules Powder Co.

The company, which converted pine stumps into resin and turpentine, had been the city’s largest employer.

The school board, which eventually came to own portions of the property, signed an agreement for Pasco County to operate the park. But, nearly eight years ago, Pasco closed the park as a cost-savings measure.

The park has languished until the city and school board reached this new agreement.

“Sometimes, it’s worth waiting for,” said Spina.

This 2017 rendering shows potential plans for refurbishing Hercules Park. No final decisions have been made.

In addition to the land, Zephyrhills would receive about $13,000, which could be used for general cleanup or possibly to cover demolition of structures at the park’s former aquatic center.

The money is a donation from developers who bought park acreage from the school board at the corner of Eiland and Gall boulevards. The site has a new WaWa gas station and convenience store, which recently had a grand opening.

As part of the agreement, Zephyrhills’ officials agreed that the remaining park land would be kept for public use only.

Spina said area schools would be able to use the park for special events.

A master plan for Hercules Park is under consideration, but Spina said no decisions have been finalized.

In 2017, plans for the park included trails, a picnic area, a trailhead for bicyclists and an outdoor center.

But, Spina said, “It’s not our intent to open the aquatic center.”

A decision also must be made on what to do with a building located by the swimming pool, he added.

Some playground equipment remains at the park, but Spina said, “It might be replaced. It’s badly out of date and doesn’t meet ADA (Americans with Disability Act) standards.”

Published July 11, 2018

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