The Pasco County Commission has unanimously approved a $22 million purchase to secure ecological corridor sites and land for a future park in Central Pasco.
The purchase is the largest in the history of the county’s Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program (ELAMP) — which began in 2005, said Keith Wiley, the county’s director of parks, recreation and natural resources.
It took more than 1,000 hours and two years of negotiations to hammer out the agreement, Wiley said.
Commissioners Jack Mariano and Ron Oakley lauded the acquisition.
Commissioner Mike Wells praised the staff for their efforts to secure it. “It’s a great concept. The park is going to be phenomenal,” Wells said.
Before commissioners approved the purchase, Dr. Rene Brown, natural resources manager for the county, provided an overview.
The acquisition includes 843.50 acres at the southeastern corner of the Suncoast Parkway and State Road 52 in Land O’ Lakes, within the Project Arthur Master Planned Unit Development.
It includes land within two ecological corridors: the North Pasco to Crossbar Corridor, and the North Pasco to Connerton Corridor.
The acquisition includes a substantial portion of the remaining acreage not already protected in the North Pasco to Connerton Corridor.
It also includes about 647 acres in the Five Mile Creek Corridor, which is all of the acreage of that corridor that is located in Project Arthur, Brown said. That includes everything in the corridor from Starkey Wilderness Park to the railroad tracks, she added.
There’s also 147 acres for a new park, which will be mostly passive in nature because of its proximity to the two ecological corridors, but there will be some active components, she said.
The land is being purchased from Len-Angeline LLC, and the James and Mabel Family Partnership LLLP, et al, according to agenda backup materials.
It is being acquired under the county’s ecological corridor ordinance, which aims:
• To preserve a continuous network of wildlife habitat between existing public lands
- To protect and conserve native vegetative communities, endangered and threatened species
- To protect natural functions of wildlife habitats and invaluable ecosystems
Len-Angeline, and James and Mabel Family Partnership LLLP, et al. (Bexley) — elected compensation instead of density transfer.
This acquisition will protect the floodplain of the Pithlachascotee River, particularly the forested wetlands along the river channel, Brown said.
It also includes measures to sustain the mature forested communities along the Pithlachascotee River and the adjacent flatwoods, she said.
It protects the floodplain of Five Mile Creek, particularly the forested wetlands along the flow-way. And, it includes measures to sustain the native communities along Five Mile Creek and the adjacent flatwoods; and measures to sustain forested upland communities adjacent to this linkage.
This purchase builds on significant conservation efforts over the past 14 years to protect the ecological corridors, according to county staff.
The agreement also calls for Len-Angeline to contribute 40 acres of upland park land along with 40 acres within the Ecological Corridors to satisfy the 80-acre park level of service requirement.
The deal also stipulates that within five years of closing, Len-Angeline will collaborate with the county on park design and will spend $3 million to develop a portion of the park site.
There will be a trail connection to Five Mile Creek Corridor.
The agreement also includes extended possession provisions for both the Bexleys and Len-Angeline to facilitate continued cattle grazing.
No leasing fee will be charged to either entity until after December 2020.
It also allows for possible extended possession through Dec. 31, 2025 with a leasing charge dependent on: 1) whether Len-Angeline or another developer purchases the remaining area of the Bexley property, and 2) the finalization of Sunlake Boulevard and Ridge Road for access to the development.
Two appraisals were completed on the land. The applicants’ appraisal valued the ecological corridors at about $26.9 million, while the county’s appraisal put it at slightly under $17 million.
Published December 04, 2019