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Warm Mineral Springs Park's future: Plans amid some concerns

Some longtime residents urge local government to steer clear of development
Warm Mineral Springs Park
Posted at 9:46 PM, Feb 16, 2024

NORTH PORT, Fla. — Warm Mineral Springs Park in North Port is a sanctuary for many people.

"I worked here for 25 years," concerned resident Mirjana Putnik said. "It's healing water. I see a lot of people come here sick. They are hardly walking after surgery, car accidents. After two weeks or more, they are recovering from their injuries."

However, the people who love it are also worried about its future.

"How do you just go in there and develop that?," concerned resident Robin SanVicente said. "How do you start looking at places that are so archaeologically significant to the history of the United States - forget about just Florida. How do you even decide to just tamper with that?"

A public-private partnership proposal between a developer and the City of North Port recently fell through.

"They just couldn't make the math work," North Port City Manager Jerome Fletcher said. "There was an item, multiple items in their form of insurance and staffing that exceeded their expectations."

North Port Commissioner Debbie McDowell said the P3 partnership included the restoration of historical buildings in exchange for new construction on city-owned property adjacent to the park.

"The P3 was going to fix the buildings, and in exchange, put the resort, and condos, and other amenities on that 62 acres," McDowell said.

Some residents are urging local government to find alternate solutions.

"We don't want development there," SanVicente said. "There's wildlife that's inhabiting that whole 62 acres. You've got endangered species there. The gopher tortoises, there are over 100 boroughs there that are active."

McDowell said she doesn't want development either. She is the only commissioner who was against the P3 proposal.

"The development of the 62 acres would not be compatible in my mind to what we have at the springs which is natural and serene," she said. "I did not feel that that intensive development on park land that the city owns would be conducive to protecting the springs which is a natural historical location."

However, the city manager said the commission consists of more than one member.

"We will continue to listen to the voice of the commission as a whole and not a single commissioner who is not supporting the project," Fletcher said. "That's how this democracy works."

Fletcher also said city staff will present recommendations to the commission March 5.