Manatee citizen-activist seeks a community garden on vacant county land

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 9, 2014 

TALLEVAST -- A local resident is lobbying for a community garden to be established on 19 county-owned acres near Kinnan Elementary.

Glen Gibellina, who lives in a neighborhood near the vacant land at 7510 Prospect Road, has asked county and school board officials to consider using the land for a garden.

"It's been vacant 12 years," said Gibellina, 62, who formerly ran a construction company but now describes himself as a "citizen-activist."

He is a frequent presence at Manatee County Commission meetings, where he has also proposed the idea.

Gibellina heads a nonprofit organization called the New Pearce Community Cultivators.

Its mission is to cultivate relationships with county government and ensure the best use of land, he said.

He hoped for grant money in order to form a plan for the community garden, he said.

"If I had grant money, or financial backing, I would already have a plan," he said.

The total assessed value of the land is listed at $521,550, according to the Manatee County Property Appraiser's office website.

When asked what plans the county has for the site, Manatee County information outreach coordinator Nick Azzara said parks and project funding requests are so frequent the county administrator has directed they be submitted in writing.

"As of today, the county has received no formal request or plan for a community park near Kinnan," Azzara said. "As such, there are no county plans for a park in that area at this time."

Manatee County School Board spokesman Stephen Valley said he was unaware of any school district plans involving the land.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.

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