Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

City leaders may have chance to save land near Hammock Park

Dunedin resident Pat Higgins, 69, holds a sign during a protest outside Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church’s May 29 morning Mass. [MEGAN REEVES | Times]

Dunedin resident Pat Higgins, 69, holds a sign during a protest outside Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church’s May 29 morning Mass. [MEGAN REEVES | Times]

DUNEDIN — Nature-loving residents took on the Catholic Church and City Hall in recent weeks over an 8-acre piece of land — and it seems now they may be winning.

The property, adjacent to Hammock Park, is owned by the church, which has a contract to sell it to developers from Taylor Morrison Homes for a housing project. But after a meeting between church and city leaders this week, the developers say they will bow out, giving the city a chance to answer residents' calls to save the space as parkland.

"At Taylor Morrison, community comes first. … We are so appreciative of the feedback we've received from residents and parishioners in Dunedin," reads a statement released by the developers Friday. "As a result, Taylor Morrison is working with the (church) to make the sale of the property available to the city."

Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski said the church called for the meeting with city officials after a heated June 2 commission meeting, where residents reprimanded city leaders for not buying the land before developers did. They spoke about the harm development could bring to threatened gopher tortoises living there.

Commissioners responded by requesting staffers to prepare a backup offer on the property, an essentially meaningless move without developers ending their contract with the church.

Church leaders declined to comment for this story, but Bujalski said they told her at the meeting that the city has 60 days to come up with an offer on the property while Taylor Morrison temporarily halts its due diligence period. If the city doesn't meet the deadline, the developers say they plan to move forward.

"If the city is unable to reach an agreement on the purchase of the property, Taylor Morrison will proceed under the terms of our current agreement with the (church)," the statement read.

Bujalski said the city staff is working quickly to run an appraisal of the property and determine possible funding sources through grants and other means. She said she expects a presentation, including a recommendation on whether to proceed with the purchase, to come before the commission soon.

"I feel very hopeful that we will be able to figure this out with the church because they are willing to work with us," she said. "We feel they care about our community just as much as we do."

But resident Sue Humphreys, president of Friends of the Hammock, a nonprofit fighting against the development, said that while she is thrilled the city is taking steps toward saving the land, there is still a lot to do, and the fight is far from over.

"This is in no way a done deal or a sure thing, and we are not going to rest until this developer totally vacates their interest in this piece of property," she said. "Whatever it takes, we are going to fight this until the end."

Contact Megan Reeves at mreeves@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4153. Follow @mreeves_tbt.

City leaders may have chance to save land near Hammock Park 06/10/16 [Last modified: Friday, June 10, 2016 11:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Good luck finding solar eclipse glasses across Tampa Bay, U.S.

    Science

    Andi Figart pulled up to the New Port Richey Library on Thursday morning to an unusual sight.

    NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 11: Pairs of free solar eclipse glasses sit on display at a Warby Parker store  on August 11, 2017 in New York City. To view the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21 eye protection is essential. The designer eyeglass store expects to give out thousands of pairs of the glasses before the event.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
  2. Republicans face primary in whirlwind special election for Plant City-area House seat

    Elections

    PLANT CITY — With qualifying completed this week, the field is set in a whirlwind special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City — and the race could come down to two candidates in a Republican primary, Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure.

    Yvonne Fry is one of two Republican candidates with strong Plant City ties to quality for a special election in state House District 58.
  3. Tim Tebow came into their life, and never left

    Minors

    There are a lot of stories about Tim Tebow connecting with people during his life, Tebow inspiring them and Tebow being inspired.

    Boomer Hornbeck of Naples, Fla., has battled cerebral palsy and undergone surgery after surgery in the hopes of allowing him to one day walk. Inspired by Tim Tebow, and encouraged by his relationship with him, Hornbeck has become a motivational speaker.
  4. Wrestler Ric Flair in critical condition with 'multiple organ problems,' family says

    Celebrities

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Ric Flair's fiancee shared more details of his illness in a Facebook post, and his condition is more serious than fans imagined for the hospitalized wrestling icon.

    Ric Flair photographed in 2009. [Getty]
  5. Gracepoint gifts senior residents with new home

    Human Interest

    SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — When Mary Myles became program manager of The Graham Home 25 years ago, 30 adults with special needs occupied 65 square-foot apartments.

    The Graham at Gracepoint, the senior living apartments at 2400 East Henry Ave., was their first facility built from the ground up.