TAMPA — Hillsborough County plans to spend almost $2 million to turn farm land into park land in Wimauma.
Commissioners, without comment, unanimously agreed Wednesday to purchase nearly 79 acres at 3535 Safford Road from Lakeland-based Cecile Busbee Farms Inc. through the county’s Jan K. Platt Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program.
The former sod farm will be added to the adjoining Upper Little Manatee River Preserve, an 8,000-acre linear preserve that includes the river corridor and adjoining uplands and wetlands. It’s accessible by two walking trails totaling four miles.
The transaction calls for the county to pay $1.66 million for the property, the higher of two appraisals, but less than the $2 million asking price. The county also budgeted $325,000 to restore uplands and to demolish structures on the property.
The purchase extends a goal of the 2021 annual report for the environmental land program that authorized the county staff to try to acquire nearby properties to complete the Upper Little Manatee River Preserve.
A memorandum to commissioners Wednesday said “the acquisition of the property will provide for improved environmental benefits, access, security, and management of the entire preserve.”