SEMINOLE COUNTY, Florida. Seminole County leaders voted to spend millions of dollars to save two golf courses, with some homeowners agreeing to a self-imposed tax to cover the cost of converting a disused course into a county park.
Deborah Bauer is a lifelong resident of the Deer Run Ward in Seminole County. She said when the golf course closed a few years ago, she knew residents had to step in to save the land from development.
“While development in the right areas is important, there are also places where development should not be allowed because it is not appropriate, and this was the case when development on this property was not appropriate,” said Bauer .
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Bauer has launched the “Save Deer Run Citizen’s Action Group”. The group of neighbors worked to figure out how to keep the property from growing into hundreds of homes.
The neighborhood turned to the Seminole County Commission for help three years ago. Bauer said the board had told residents they had to get involved to save the country.
“I think we were literally ready to write the check to put our money where our mouths are,” she said.
The county hired the Deer Run community to approve a community service facility, which is a self-imposed tax for homeowners. It is an additional valuation of property tax bills, valued at $ 65 to $ 130 per household per year for 15 years.
For weeks, farmers and volunteers fought for the nearly 3,000 home quarters and fought for the tax district.
“We had to get 65% of the residents who belonged to this group of people not only to cast their ballot and vote with yes,” said Bauer.
The deadline for entries was last Friday. According to the county, 67% of Deer Run homeowners voted for the tax district.
On Tuesday, following the results of the MSBU, the Seminole County’s Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to move forward. The board agreed to spend $ 14 million on the purchase of the Deer Run golf course to be converted into a park, as well as the Wekiva golf course.
Commissioner Bob Dallari said the county will continue to operate the Wekiva golf course.
“Money is still being made. There’s no point in closing it, ”said Dallari.
Dallari said the deal adds nearly 300 acres of parkland in an urban setting in Seminole County. He credits the homeowners for getting results and saving the land.
“They came to us with a problem, they showed us a solution and they helped us with a solution,” said Dallari.
Dallari said the county took a similar move in 2016 when it purchased the disused Rolling Hills golf course. The county is currently in the process of converting the land into a park.
“Rolling Hills really was the blueprint for how we did it,” said Dallari. “It was a win-win for everyone, so we took this model and brought it to Deer Run.”
Dallari said there will be community meetings to allow for public opinion on the park design plans at Deer Run. He said features include paths and bike paths, as well as playgrounds and open spaces. He adds that the money will be used by MSBU to pay for the improvements.
The next step is for the county to finalize the contract and funding. Dallari said he hopes the county will take over the two golf courses by the end of the year.
Bauer adds that the homeowners are grateful to the county and landowner for working together to save the green spaces.
“We believe that not only have we done our duty to protect our homes, but we’ve done something we’re proud of because we know we’ll leave something behind for tomorrow’s residents,” she said.
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