Manatee County commissioners authorized the county administrator to enter negotiations that could lead to creation of another northwest Bradenton preserve — a Robinson II.
The county commission, which addressed the possible land-acquisition during a meeting March 15, also has an opportunity to acquire environmentally significant properties along the Braden River.
The potential property acquisitions were discussed first during a work meeting March 1, when natural resources director Charlie Hunsicker introduced several opportunities created by a downturn in the real estate market.
During last week’s meeting, Hunsicker proposed the commission authorize county administrator Ed Hunzeker and his staff to initiate negotiations with the Southwest Florida Water Management District to purchase 149.9 acres to the southeast of Robinson Preserve, as well as two Braden River properties in East Manatee, including the Linger Lodge and restaurant.
The board approved Hunsicker’s proposal.
The county and Swiftmud will explore the possibility of the district acquiring the properties and the county assuming management responsibilities. Swiftmud’s interest, Hunsicker said, would be in the ways that preserving the environmentally sensitive land could protect water quality and improve stormwater quality.
The west Bradenton property would come from Robinson Farms, which has proposed selling 150 acres of its 200 acres adjacent to Robinson Preserve. The developer would retain some property for home construction.
A meeting between county and Swiftmud staff to discuss the property acquisitions was set for March 21, as The Islander went to press.
Swiftmud administers two programs related to acquisition and restoration — the Florida Forever conservation land acquisition program and the Surface Water and Improvement Management program. Both programs are dependent on state funding sources that “have been significantly reduced or suspended indefinitely,” according to Eric Sutton, Swiftmud land resources director.
However, the Robinson property is listed in the Florida Forever work plan, Sutton noted. Additionally, he said the SWIM program was instrumental in the creation of Robinson, Neal and Perico preserves.
County officials said they hoped to complete negotiations by July.