By B.C. Manion
Pasco County commissioners have taken a step closer to creating a sports complex in Wesley Chapel aimed at boosting tourism by attracting national tournaments.
Commissioners voted unanimously on April 30 on a deal to accept 138 acres from the Porter family, with a deadline of signing the closing documents on May 7 or before.
The Porters had hoped for an April 30th closing, but commissioners pushed off the date at the recommendation of county staff.
Assistant county attorney Jane Fagen said the additional time was necessary to review contract language involving easements.
The Porter family, which has played a pivotal role in the development of Wesley Chapel, donated the land as part of a plan to create a world-class facility for sporting events.
Initially, the Porters had proposed building and operating the sports complex, but after skirmishes with the county, they backed off that idea and decided to donate the land instead.
It took months of negotiations to hammer out those details, with the county opting to reject a portion of the land that had initially been identified as part of the donation.
Fagen explained to county commissioners that it did not appear to be in the county’s best interest to accept all of the land that had been earmarked because a portion would be of limited use.
Once the county closes the land donation deal, it will resume negotiations with Blue Marble Strategic, a company that wants to develop the sports complex.
The Porters previously sold land used to develop The Shops at Wiregrass, Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel and various residential communities and shopping centers.
The family also donated land for the new Pasco-Hernando Community College campus under construction in Wesley Chapel. Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch is expected to open in January 2014.