Hercules Park is still in line to become the property of the city of Zephyrhills. But, an agreement to transfer the parkland from the Pasco County School District to the city remains a work in progress.
“We’re still on track to turn it over, and we will do that,” said Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent for Pasco County Schools.
The Zephyrhills City Council received an update on the matter on Jan. 10 from the city’s planning department.
Site approval is nearly complete for a WaWa convenience store and gas station at the corner of Eiland Boulevard and U.S. 301.
The city also is preparing a site, south of WaWa, for marketing to developers, possibly for a restaurant or retail.
A master plan for restoring and reopening Hercules Park also is on the drawing board.
The approximately 15-acre park site is a historic relic that once was part of about 80 acres owned by the Hercules Powder Co. The company, which converted pine stumps into resin and turpentine, had been the city’s largest employer.
The site also eventually became home to the park, Zephyrhills High School and Woodland Elementary School.
Based on an agreement with the school district, Pasco County operated the site as a park for several years. However, the county closed the park more than six years ago to save money, and returned the property to the school district.
The Pasco County School Board agreed last year to sell about 2.5 acres to GH & G Florida LLC. A second parcel, south of WaWa, also will be developed.
However, several acres of parkland will remain for transfer to the city of Zephyrhills.
Consulting firm Kimley-Horn has completed a master plan for Hercules Park. It includes trails, a picnic area, a trailhead for bicyclists, an outdoor center, playground area, and connecting sidewalks to area schools and neighborhoods.
“Mostly the interest is to keep it a passive park,” said Todd Vande Berg, the city’s planning director.
Preserving trees and low-impact activities are what people seemed to want as opposed to building tennis or basketball courts, he added.
No decisions have been made on the future of the park’s aquatic center and swimming pool, he said.
But, he said, “Everything is moving forward for transfer.”
Published January 25, 2017