EAST LAKE — The Wilde Trust has signed a contract to sell the 871-acre Eldridge-Wilde well field to Pinellas County for $17,422,400.
And county commissioners are already celebrating.
At Tuesday's commission meeting, County Administrator Fred Marquis said efforts to buy the land north of Keystone Road go back to the 1970s.
"This is a very happy day," county Commissioner Susan Latvala said. "It's a piece of land that we've needed."
The land is uniquely positioned to meet a multitude of needs. The deal could protect an active well field. The land also could:
• Provide a corridor for wildlife that connects parts of the Brooker Creek Preserve south of Keystone Road with preserve acres to the north.
• Provide a corridor for wildlife that connects the more than 1,000 acres on the Hillsborough County side of the Eldridge-Wilde well field to the Brooker Creek Preserve, also providing a wildlife route to the Anclote River.
• Provide about 100 acres for recreation near the site of the existing East Lake Youth Sports Complex on Old Keystone Road, with more parking. Ballfields could most likely be built there without the expense of wetlands compensation. Building ballfields at a School Board site on the corner of East Lake Road and Keystone Road, as the county has discussed, would require expensive wetlands mitigation.
• Provide room for the Keller water treatment plant on Old Keystone Road to expand if Pinellas County decides to rebuild the plant where it stands rather than build a water plant on the preserve acres already cleared off Trinity Boulevard.
Mike Nahat, a county real estate coordinator, negotiated the deal, which he said was based on two appraisals.
"I think it's a fair price for both sides," Nahat said.
If the County Commission votes to approve the purchase on Sept. 16, he said, the sale could close by mid November.