Future addition to Robinson Preserve holds a rare botanical treasure

November 3, 2012 

Three cheers to the Robinson family and Manatee County for moving closer this week to adding 150 acres to the already wildly popular 487-acre Robinson Preserve northwest of Bradenton.

Lacking any money for environmental land acquisition, the county commission this week approved an agreement with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast Inc. The nonprofit will raise money to purchase the land and then sign it over to the county. The agreement also allows the Robinson family to keep 50 acres and build up to 50 residential units under current zoning and density regulations.

For years the Robinsons have been sitting on blueprints for a subdivision of luxury homes and a Pete Dye championship golf course on the 200 acres. Dye is one of the world's premier golf course architects.

The family already had a substantial investment in the development of this tract -- in the seven figures -- but decided preserving the past would be better for future generations.

Some 20 to 30 acres of the 150 hold a rare botanical treasure planted by Ward Reasoner, Bill Robinson recounted to the Herald Editorial Board. The legendary Manatee County nurseryman operated a farm on the site for his family's nursery, established in the 1880s in Oneco, planting seeds he gathered from around the world.

Robinson described the Reasoner farm as a "wonderland" of unique and irreplaceable trees that transcend the magnificent ones at the Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. Well, imagine that.

This should make for a jaw-dropping addition to the Robinson Preserve.

Quote of the week

"I cannot express in good words, the gratitude, the degree, to which I am so grateful to every member of the faculty and staff for your amazing ability to do so much with so little." -- State College of Florida trustee Jennifer Saslaw, who resigned her post at the Tuesday board meeting where SCF President Lars Hafner agreed to a departure settlement.

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