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Residents protecting North Port lake call open land "cocaine for developers"

Commissioners acknowledged residents' concerns while asking to review cost estimates for Phase I development proposal of Warm Mineral Springs Park
Warm Mineral Springs Park
Posted at 9:49 PM, Mar 05, 2024

NORTH PORT, Fla. — The future of Warm Mineral Springs Park is still being decided after a public-private partnership proposal with a developer didn't work out.

Several residents urged North Port commissioners to steer clear of large amounts of development at Tuesday's meeting. They said city officials need to get their priorities straight when it comes to conservation and land development.

"Land space to developers is like crack cocaine to an addict," one North Port resident said.

"Please listen to your constituents," another person who lives in North Port said. "They elected you to do the right thing."

They pled for minimal development around Warm Mineral Springs Park.

"We would like to see the simplest bathrooms, showers, maybe some locker rooms, that's it," concerned resident Robin San Vicente said.

Commissioners discussed improvements they would like to see done to the park. The Phase I proposal includes building an administration building with bathrooms and showers, improving parking, and other components. Phase II includes future development on the surrounding 60 acres of land.

However, funding remains an issue.

"What makes sense for the city now is to remove most of the buildings, if not all of them and keep the historical aspects of them and put them into a new building," said North Port City Manager Jerome Fletcher.

North Port has around $8.5 million set aside for Warm Mineral Springs Park. Commissioners said they don't want to add additional costs to taxpayers for the project.

"Now, if we take our money and take the focus on Phase I, let us improve the lake," Fletcher said. "Then, at the same time, allow the vocal people we've heard publicly, whether it's through rallies, comments, or emails, or conversation. Let them organize and see if it needs to be a state park or national park."

The commission ultimately voted to have city staff bring back estimates on the potential costs of the Phase I proposal.