DUNEDIN — The city has gotten a payback two years after purchasing 8.7 acres adjacent to Hammock Park to save it from being developed for townhomes.
The city received a $682,632 grant from the Florida Communities Trust Parks and Open Space program to cover half of the $1.34 million purchase made in 2016.
Parks and Recreation Director Vince Gizzi said the city first applied for the 50 percent grant in 2016 but did not make the cut for the limited amounts of funds. The city applied again this year for a grant to cover 40 percent of the purchase.
But after a few municipalities dropped out of the 2016 cycle this year, Gizzi said Dunedin’s 2016 grant application was accepted.
“It was a really nice surprise since it was more than we applied for this year,” Gizzi said.
The city bought the 8.7 acres in 2016 from Our Lady of Lourdes Church, which was poised to sell it to Taylor Morrison Homes developers for a housing project.
After a fierce campaign from the community and preservationists, the developers bowed out to allow the city to buy the land.
Hammock Park is now 90 acres and home to 300 species of shrubs, trees and animal species, including the threatened gopher tortoise.
“Once you give land up you’ll never get it back, so it was important that we were able to get the piece of land to expand the park,” Gizzi said.