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Movie crew restricted at nature park site

The filming of a Hulk Hogan movie at the planned 80-acre nature park along the Pithlachascotee River should not harm the environment, and it will not stop the deal to buy the property.

That's according to Realtor Chuck Grey, who represents the owner of the property, and Anne Peery, executive director of Florida Communities Trust, the state agency footing almost two-thirds of the $775,000 bill to buy it.

"I don't want to do anything out there that will harm the transaction," Grey said. "I have been working on it for seven years."

The question arose when New Port Richey residents questioned allowing an action-adventure movie to be filmed on the undeveloped site. Some worried that the site may be damaged. Others wondered if it could kill the deal for the state and city to buy it.

The land will be protected by state environmental agencies that control how it can be used, Grey said. State Department of Environmental Protection officials walked through the site with movie executives and Grey on Tuesday and laid out what can and can't be done.

"They have put the movie people on alert about what they can do," Grey said. "The state is providing them a list.

"They're not moving any trees, digging any holes, doing anything like that. They're not going to clear the river, and they cannot dredge or clear out a channel. They can't flatten wetlands or cut a palm tree."

The scenes with explosives are going to be filmed elsewhere, he said. The scenes on the New Port Richey site will be of actors walking, talking and perhaps meeting in a campsite in a jungle island setting, he said. "They have to use what is there and not damage any of it."

The movie, McCinsey's Island, is about a treasure hunt, according to Richard Seres, unit production manager for the film.

The filming _ if it takes place _ probably will be finished by the time the city and state sign the papers to buy the property. The deal was supposed to be signed March 31, but delays in obtaining and approving all the documents probably will push that date beyond the time the film crew will be on the site.

Even if the original signing had taken place, it's possible the state would have no objections to the movie.

"We're not necessarily closed to the idea of the city using the property for a movie," Ms. Peery said. "Our position is, we always work to accommodate local governments. The city needs to ask us."

The concern of the Florida Communities Trust is that the environment is not harmed.

"Can they truly leave the property the way they found it?" Ms. Peery said. "If they can, then, legally, this can be accommodated."

Grey said the movie crew probably will do less harm than vandals, who have trespassed and left trash on the property.

"They've left beer cans, lumber, shingles, all kinds of stuff," Grey said. "What the movie (people) are going to do is a positive, not a negative."

City Manager Gerald Seeber said he had no objections to a film crew.

"I just wish it was National Geographic doing a story on gopher tortoises," Seeber said. "We would welcome them with open arms."