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Pasco, developer working on deal for Trinity park

Trinity residents might not have to wait much longer for a deal to build a long-stalled park in their neighborhood.

Last month, the development company that built much of Trinity offered to take back 24 acres south of Trinity Boulevard that it had donated to the county as part of a development agreement. The company, alongside the Trinity Master Association, offered to build improvements to the park and conduct routine maintenance.

There is one potential snag. The developer, Adam Smith Enterprises, floated the possibility of a private park open only to Trinity residents. If that were the case, county officials could not justify the roughly $600,000 in fee waivers it gave the company for the initial land donation.

"If it was a private park, we could not spend public money on it," County Administrator John Gallagher said.

After considering the offer this week, county commissioners told Gallagher to hammer out a deal — as long as the park is open to the public.

"I don't see how the residents can possibly think they're going to be able to exclude non-Trinity residents from utilizing the facility," said Commissioner Ted Schrader.

Lew Friedland, president of Adam Smith Enterprises, said he hasn't met with Gallagher yet, and talk of a formal agreement is premature.

"The residents would like to see a park built there," he said. "I understand the county's financial dilemma. So we're trying to see if we can find something that makes everyone happy."

Many details have not been finalized, including how much the park construction would cost or when it would open.

"It's almost like we've got a willing seller and a willing buyer," said Commissioner Ann Hildebrand, whose district includes Trinity. "We've just got a couple of hurdles to get over. I think we're close to getting a resolution so that we can make it happen."

Developers envision a passive park with walking trails, tennis and basketball courts, a picnic shelter and a dog park. The site is adjacent to county fire station No. 15, near State Road 54. The park would be run by the homeowners' association, though it's not clear whether it would own the land or operate a long-term lease. The county would retain 4 or 5 acres for a future library.

"If the homeowners are willing to take it back, I'm encouraged to try to find some way to find a solution," Gallagher said.

The county had set aside $1 million in bond money to pay for improvements to the park, but the deal stalled since the recession because the county didn't have enough operating money to maintain a new county park.

In 2010, Adam Smith offered $60,000 to help maintain the park for the first few years. But officials said that wouldn't cover the whole cost, and they couldn't justify spending money on a new park when they were cutting back on existing parks.

Lee Logan can be reached at llogan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236.

Pasco, developer working on deal for Trinity park 10/10/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 8:14pm]

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