WEEKI WACHEE — The city of Weeki Wachee ceased to be on Tuesday when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill dissolving the municipality.
Founded in 1966 to put the famous Weeki Wachee mermaid attraction onto maps and road signs, the city at last count had just 13 residents. But in recent years, the city’s coexistence with the state park caused friction.
Questions arose about how the people running the city, which was insolvent and provided no visible services to the small business community that paid taxes, could be the same people who ran important functions at the state park.
Overuse of the Weeki Wachee River, which has its head springs inside the park, has been a major issue. The degrading of the river over time has brought a recent capacity study there which examined public use and suggested improvements. The long-term plan is a multi-million dollar restoration of the waterway, which will involve dredging and other environmental repairs.
State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, filed the bill to disband the city, making regular jokes along the committee trail about the mermaids being just as under water as the city finances. That problem is still left for Hernando County to work out with the city’s one creditor: lawyer Joe Mason, who ran up more than $1 million in legal bills over the years.
The end of the city, though, will have no real effect on the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, which is still largely idled by the coronavirus. Some upgrades are underway at the adjacent water park, Buccaneer Bay.