Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Little Now Separates Bathers and Springs

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Little Now Separates Bathers and Springs

Article excerpt

ATTRACTION: If meetings and paperwork go smoothly, it could open again Saturday

NORTH PORT -- Warm Mineral Springs could reopen to swimmers as early as Saturday, providing a couple of key meetings go as planned.

The final closing paperwork needs to be signed with the City of North Port buying Sarasota County's share of the attraction. City officials also must complete a new management agreement allowing National and State Park Concessions Inc.'s return to run the operation.

Mayor James Blucher said he did not expect any surprises, joking that a couple of alligators might have found their way onto the property since it closed to the public Aug. 31.

The opening will not come soon enough for patrons.

"This is our social club, it's not only the lake," resident Dan Davidson told North Port commissioners Monday. "It's where we get together, where we can see each other."

The closing of the sale is still not firm, but City Attorney Mark Moriarty said Wednesday that a tentative time is at 10 a.m. Friday. The city will pay $2.75 million plus closing costs to buy the county's half of the 81-acre site.

City commissioners are expected to approve the concessionaire's agreement tonight as a special addition to a regularly scheduled meeting. National and State Park Concessions workers are ready to open.

"When they left, they left everything intact, and that was OK with us," Blucher said. "There might be a little cleaning they have to do."

The reopening of the springs under sole ownership of the city ends a tumultuous few months of back-and-forth negotiations for the sale. In the meantime, National and State Park's one-year agreement expired Aug. 31; citing state law, county commissioners say they could not extend the agreement, or solicit bids for a new operator, while the sale was being finalized.

There are now no legal issues with the sale agreement, both Moriarty and City Manager Jonathan Lewis told commission members earlier this week.

Environmental and property surveys have been completed and title documents acquired. …

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