Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas refuses to sell Cross Bar Ranch land to Pasco

Cross Bar Ranch occupies 12,400 acres in Pasco but has been Pinellas-owned since the county bought it in the 1970s. Pinellas wants to keep the property in case its water needs worsen.

Times (2007)

Cross Bar Ranch occupies 12,400 acres in Pasco but has been Pinellas-owned since the county bought it in the 1970s. Pinellas wants to keep the property in case its water needs worsen.

CLEARWATER — The 12,400 acres Pinellas County owns in Pasco are not for sale.

Not for any amount of money and not under any conditions. By the end of the Pinellas County Commission's meeting on Tuesday, it was clear that Pasco County, the eager buyer, would be going home empty handed, its bid to acquire the land discarded before anyone could determine the land's worth.

Known as the Cross Bar Ranch, the land that Pinellas bought from Pasco in the mid-1970s is host to 17 wellheads owned by Tampa Bay Water. They pump millions of gallons of water out of the aquifer daily, supplying Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, Tampa, St. Petersburg and New Port Richey.

Decades after selling the land, Pasco officials approached Pinellas last year with the offer to buy it back. Their intention, they said, was to build a series of trails linking the Cross Bar to other environmentally protected lands and to eliminate the possibility that Pinellas would one day sell the land to developers.

On Tuesday, four of the Pinellas commission's seven members said that under no circumstances would they sell the land. Looking decades into the future, they envisioned a day in which regional cooperation had given way to chaos, forcing Pinellas to find its own water source. If they parted with the land, they said, there would be no fallback option.

"We just have to be conservative in this and not sell an asset that we might never know someday why we might need," said Commissioner Karen Seel.

Look at what's happening in California, she said, pointing to a state that's drought-stricken and draws much of its water from outside its borders. The Pinellas-owned property adjacent to the Cross Bar Ranch, called Al Bar, currently lacks wellfields, but the county could build them if it grew desperate, she said.

Commissioners Susan Latvala and Ken Welch, who have been the strongest advocates on the board for selling the land, argued on Tuesday that the property is no longer of any real use to Pinellas. Much of the land is used for agriculture and a pine straw business that's just beginning to turn a profit.

If it were sold, they said, Pinellas could divert money spent managing the property to environmental lands within its borders, such as Booker Creek. Proceeds from a sale could also be used to keep residents' water bills from increasing, or to pay for $30 million worth of water system projects, some of which have been postponed due to funding shortfalls.

"I cannot justify in any way that we should keep a piece of land in perpetuity which costs us money and our citizens have no access to," Latvala said, calling the board's decision not to sell "unbelievable."

Commissioner Charlie Justice said he was interested in selling the land, but only for the right price. He suggested that Pasco pay for an appraisal.

Ultimately, commissioners agreed only to look into ways of increasing the public's access to the property, which is mainly visited by Pasco students.

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at aphillips@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779.

Pinellas refuses to sell Cross Bar Ranch land to Pasco 02/04/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Video: Loggerhead sea turtle found in Islamorada resident's pool

    Wildlife

    An adult female loggerhead sea turtle, discovered in an oceanside residential pool in Islamorada on Monday, has been rescued and released off the Florida Keys.

    An adult female loggerhead sea turtle, discovered in an oceanside residential pool in Islamorada on June 22, 2017, has been rescued and released off the Florida Keys. [Photo from video]

  2. What Wilson Ramos will mean to the Rays lineup, pitching

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer was stumping for all-star votes for Corey Dickerson during a live interview Wednesday morning on the MLB Network when he lifted the right earpiece on his headset and said, "I hear a buffalo coming."

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos (40) waves to the crowd after being presented with the Silver Slugger Award before the start of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.
  3. Deon Cain, Duke Dawson, Derrick Nnadi among SI's top 100 players

    Blogs

    Sports Illustrated's countdown of the top 100 players in college football continues with three more local players.

  4. She doesn't care if you accept her, as long as you respect her

    Human Interest

    Mary Jane Taylor finds strength walking quietly among the dead.

    Mary Jane Taylor,18, visits Oaklawn Cemetery in downtown Tampa when she is feeling low. "When I hit my low points in life I go the the graveyard," she says. "people are afraid of the graveyard. I love the graveyard." The transgender teen recently graduated from Jefferson High School. She is  enrolled in summer classes at Santa Fe College in Gainesville studying international business. She plans to transfer to the University of Florida, attend law school and become a civil rights lawyer. (JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   Times)
  5. Few new details in state investigation of Tarpon Springs officer-involved shooting of Nick Provenza

    Public Safety

    TARPON SPRINGS — An investigative report, released this week by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, into the officer-involved shooting that killed 25-year-old Nick Provenza included largely the same narrative prosecutors released this month that ruled the shooting a "justifiable homicide."

    Stopping while riding by on his bike Michael Prater, 15, hangs his head after looking at the memorial at Safford and Tarpon avenues for Nick Provenza, a 25-year-old who was shot and killed there during a car show Saturday by a Tarpon Springs police officer. Investigators said Provenza pulled a knife on the cop who shot him. Friends find it hard to believe a man they described as a peaceful vegan and musician would be capable of such an act. Prater didn't know the victim but was at the car show.