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Share control of Hernando Park, Brooksville group now says

Published Nov. 16, 2012

BROOKSVILLE — The Brooksville Vision Foundation, the community revitalization group that once advocated that control of the small downtown county-owned Hernando Park be turned over to the city of Brooksville, has changed its tune.

According to Cliff Manuel, chairman of the Brooksville Vision stakeholders council, the group would rather see a cooperative effort by the city and the county to run the park, with financial assistance from the nonprofit organization to pay for improvements.

Addressing members at the organization's monthly meeting Thursday at Brooksville City Hall, Manuel said an inter-local agreement between the county and city would be "more beneficial because it would allow for more input from all sides."

Earlier this year, controversy erupted over statements from some members of the Brooksville Vision Foundation who said they favored transferring ownership of the 1.4-acre park to the city prior to the inaugural Florida Blueberry Festival in May. That concerned some local tennis players who use the courts at the park. They said they feared that such a move might jeopardize the viability of the courts and could lead to their removal.

Manuel said such divisiveness over the park's ownership "does no good for anyone in the community and isn't worth worrying about." Rather, he said that a cooperative effort between the governmental entities would likely make things easier for his organization, which wants to hold between 20 and 30 activities a year at the park — including music festivals and concerts, art shows and children's activities — in an effort to raise money for city revitalization projects.

In preparation for the blueberry festival, the Brooksville Vision Foundation and the Brooksville Rotary Club collaborated with other private donors to pay for about $18,000 in renovations to the park, including a new brick paver entrance, a pergola and additional landscaping.

Manuel said that he and other board members plan to meet with other city advisory groups before conferring with city and county officials concerning how to proceed in early 2013 with future plans for the park.

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or