Tuesday, November 21, 2017
News Roundup

Hernando officials consider purchase of Spring Hill's Lake House

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BROOKSVILLE — One of Spring Hill's original community event venues and gathering spots could soon get a new life.

On Tuesday, the Hernando County Commission voted unanimously to enter negotiations to purchase the Lake House on Kenlake Avenue, along with the surrounding 16 acres.

In recent years, the Lake House has fallen on hard times, Spring Hill Community Association president Ed Lawrence told commissioners.

The current board members, who have been in place for a number of years, have been unable to increase revenues to keep up the property, he said, and it has been difficult to find volunteers to keep the facility up and running.

The group has been able to do some work on painting, plumbing, electricity, the roof, the restrooms and other features. But Lawrence noted that, if the county were interested in buying the property, he had a deal for them.

County Administrator Len Sossamon said the property, which is adjacent to the county-owned former Little Red Schoolhouse Library and the site of the now-closed Hunter's Lake boat ramp, could make a perfect "pocket park.''

The site is also near Kass Circle, where the county, with help from a university consultant, is drawing up a revitalization plan. The early version of that plan includes suggestions for green space and community gathering places.

Over the years, the Lake House, which was built in 1967, has played host to a variety of public concerts and events, as well as weddings and other private parties. Some families have simply gone there to spread out a blanket on the lawn and have a picnic.

Russ Wetherington, assistant county administrator for general services, said he has looked at the property several times with parks and recreation officials. The community center and the adjoining acreage could offer space for a number of county programs, he concluded.

Hunters Lake currently has water in it. The site used to be a popular fishing spot, but vegetation has overtaken parts of it. Some long-term county plans call for cleaning up the lake and reopening the boat ramp.

No dollar figures were discussed Tuesday, but Commissioner Dave Russell said he thought that park impact fees could be a revenue source for the purchase. Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes suggested funds for sensitive lands.

Wetherington said that sensitive lands funds had been considered and rejected, but he could renew discussions on that topic.

Commissioner Diane Rowden said she wants to see the site maintained. It has historical significance for longtime Spring Hill residents, she said, and would be "a great opportunity for us.''

County staffers are expected to bring back paperwork for the formal acquisition May 13.

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