From Pasco County

Regarding The Park...

Gulf Harbors Neighborhood Park Update 

 

November 15, 2021

 

Pasco County closed on the purchase of the 50-acre former Gulf Harbors Golf Course

property on August 24, 2021, for the sum of $1,200,000.00.

Upon entering a contract to purchase the property, the County also enacted a Municipal

Services Benefit Unit (MSBU) ordinance to create a neighborhood park, surrounding a

conservation area. Approximately 1,800 residential properties of Gulf Harbors will fund half

the purchase price of the property and annual maintenance costs of the park. The 1,800

residential properties of Gulf Harbors will also fund any capital improvements that are

recommended by an Advisory Committee and approved by the Board of County

Commissioners (BCC).

For funding half of the purchase price of the property, the assessment on each of the 1,800

residential properties is a one-time payment of approximately $335.00 or $67.00 per year for

(5) five years. The assessment for the annual maintenance costs of the park, including

minimal mowing, is estimated to be $25.00 per year. The estimated total annual assessment

of $100.00 per year for the first (5) years includes the $67.00 (purchase) plus the $25.00

(maintenance) and $8.00 towards capital improvements. Any capital improvements will be as

recommended by the Advisory Committee and approved by the BCC. If a higher

maintenance standard and/or additional capital improvements (i.e. more than what $8.00 per

year for the first (5) years will accumulate and fund) are desired sooner by the Gulf Harbor’s

Residents, then an increased assessment can be expected.

When the County closed on the purchase of the property, the County received title free and

clear of all liens. It was the responsibility of the seller to satisfy or resolve all liens prior to

closing. No amount due or paid to Lindrick, FGUA, or the County for the solid waste liens,

will ever be charged to the MSBU.

The County’s Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program (ELAMP) will be

responsible for maintaining the conservation section of the property, in the center of the

park, at ELAMP’s expense. A plan for the initial cleanup and removal of invasive species and

restoration of the ELAMP area is currently being prepared. Those costs will not be charged

to the MSBU.

Access to the park will be limited to only those residents assessed as part of the MSBU, in

accordance with the MSBU ordinance. This is possible, in part, by the fact that the MSBU

residents will be paying for the purchase and the maintenance of the property. The ELAMP

portion will be limited to ELAMP staff, and their guests.

As many of you already know, after the County enacted the MSBU Ordinance, a lawsuit was

filed in court, challenging the special assessment. The biggest complaint from the plaintiff

was that the seller might not pay for, or complete, the remediation plan. Arsenic and

pesticides that were often used for turf protection on golf courses, but are no longer allowed,

were found in some of the soils on the property, and the County’s purchase agreement

required the seller to remediate the property prior to closing. The remediation has been paid

for and completed by the seller, and excavated soils were transported from the site and

disposed of at an authorized landfill, in accordance with the Florida Department of

 

Environmental Protection (FDEP) approved work plan. The FDEP work plan required

remediation sufficient to allow for the following uses: recreational uses, nature parks, nature

centers, nature reserves and preserves, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, natural wonder tourist

attractions, conservation areas, walking, hiking, jogging, bicycling, wildlife watching, painting,

photography, dog park, children's play area, perimeter multi-use trail, restrooms and parking

area, picnic shelter and associated educational/civic uses. 

Future amenities can be determined by an Advisory Committee if they are consistent with

the FDEP restrictions, and MSBU residents are willing to assess themselves for the capital

and long-term maintenance costs and/or through donations or grants received. The Advisory

Committee would make a recommendation to the BCC concerning any additional costs that

might be charged to the MSBU. Routine maintenance costs will likely be subject to

inflationary increases and level of service adjustments. Any change to the assessment

amount would be made by the BCC following a public hearing on the matter.

Now that the remediation work has been completed, and the County has closed on the

purchase of the property, the County will continue pursuing the MSBU, which may include

the enactment of a new MSBU ordinance. The annual assessment is still expected to be

$100.00 per year, per residential property. Once the challenge to the MSBU ordinance is

resolved, an Advisory Committee will be established. The Advisory Committee will be

comprised of seven members, appointed by the BCC. Only residents who own property

within the MSBU will be able to serve on the Advisory Committee.

From your Board of Directors

Regarding The Park...

 

FINALLY, A GULF HARBORS PARK


This month, instead of a message from the Director of Public Relations, the entire Board of the Gulf
Harbors Civic Association would like to take this opportunity to provide some history and information
about our new park. For six years members of the Association have worked with representatives for the
sellers, lien holders and Pasco County staff members, to find a use for the defunct golf course. Many
options were looked at, from GHCA purchasing it as a golf course, to GHCA purchasing it to make it a
park, to getting private citizens to purchase it and donating it to the community, to Pasco County
purchasing it, all this with an eye to ensuring that we were protected from outside developers. Every
option came with drawbacks, the biggest being liability to the homeowners and to the GHCA. Because
GHCA is not an HOA and does not have a guaranteed income stream, it was deemed too risky. The
compromise of the county purchasing and selling half to the residents through the use of an MSBU is the
safest and best method to reach our goal.


The first step is complete. Pasco County has closed on the purchase of the 51 acre old Gulf Harbors Golf
Course. The contamination has been reduced to safe levels per the Florida Department of Environment
Protection. The remediation of the contamination by the seller was always required by the county
“Purchase and Sales Agreement”. A permanent Deed Restriction has been filed with the Pasco County
Clerk of the court to ensure that it will remain a park and cannot be developed for other purposes. This
deed restriction lays out the specific and general uses that the property can be used for in perpetuity.
What does this mean for Gulf Harbor's property owners? We will now have a much needed park in our
premier subdivision. We will have space for safe, off-street walking/jogging trails, a children's
playground, picnic shelters, a dog park for our property owners, and a restricted nature preserve for bird
watching. Of the 51 Acres, 25 were purchased by ELAMP as environmentally managed lands which under
Pasco County Ordinance allow the county to restrict who can enter the property. The additional 26 acres
have been initially purchased outright by the county under the control of the Parks Department.
So what has to happen next? The County needs to finalize a Municipal Services Benefit Unit (MSBU) to
provide a vehicle for funding one half of the purchase price of the property, as well as ongoing
maintenance for the land. The cost of the MSBU, for five Years, will be $100.00/year/household with
$65.00 funding one half the purchase price, and $35.00 funding upgrades and ongoing maintenance. By
creating an MSBU the county has the right to restrict the use to only Gulf Harbors property owners but
will still retain the liability for the property and protection of Gulf Harbor's residents.


The Community, in conjunction with the county, will then establish an Advisory Committee consisting of
7 members. At least 5 members will be Gulf Harbors property owners and one will be from the ELAMP.
The initial members of the Committee will be chosen by the Pasco County Commissioners from owners
making applications to the BOCC. The Advisory Committee will basically “run” the park by meeting with
residents of the community, establishing a park “Wish List”, and recommending how available park
improvement money will be spent. This committee is responsible for making a plan to submit to the
commissioners, seeing that the money collected is spent according to the approved plan and that
improvements are done in a satisfactory manner.


It is the intention of the Gulf Harbors Civic Association Charitable Fund to establish a “Friends of the
Park” non-profit account to raise charitable donations for improvements to the park in addition to what
the Advisory Committee can afford. These funds could come from personal donations, fundraisers, or
county, state or federal grants and be used to fund items like memorial benches, paver bricks, shelters,
children’s play equipment, etc. Art Haedike has already agreed to write a check to the fund for $10,000
to get the fund started. Other families in our community have already stepped forward and pledged
donations to the park.


Because of a pending lawsuit from one individual it will take several months to complete the MSBU. In
the meantime the County will begin the cleanup and pumping of excess water from the site, this all
funded by ELAMP. The community will be advised when applications for the Committee are available.
We encourage everyone to get involved in making this a tremendous asset for Gulf Harbors.


You’re GHCA Board of Directors September 2021:
President, Paris Tsirnikas; Vice President, Eric Anderson; Treasurer, Art Haedike; Secretary, Donna
Flannery; Chairman of the Board, Roger Parker; Dir of Membership, Deb Johnson; Dir of IT and Security,
George Pope; Dir of Maintenance, Frank Dunne; Dir of Communications, Blake Allen; Dir of Public
Relations, Skip Geiger; Dir of Way and Means, Diane Alesci; Director of Hall Rental, Julie Randall; SGT of
Arms, Wayne Neelan.