BRADENTON -- Officials with the city of Bradenton wants to know if Ware's Creek residents want a parcel on Ninth Street West across from the Ballard Elementary School turned into green space.
The tract is covered with exotic palms, pines and 100-year-old-plus oak and red cedar trees. The roughly half-acre "environmental preserve" would be on city-owned land roughly across from the school playground, Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff said Tuesday.
"It has been zoned for housing, but my intention is to make it a preserve in perpetuity," Roff said. "What I am hoping is that it can become a community asset. It would be a passive park. It doesn't need improvements."
A public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Ballard Elementary School auditorium, 912 18th St. W.
Bradenton bought the two parcels from developer John Neal about a year ago in a deal for land that contained dilapidated income properties for what Roff diplomatically calls "high-yield, low-maintenance" landlords.
Neal was not one of these
landlords and made sure the parcels didn't fall into their hands, Roff said.
"We've been knocking down these houses, one by one," Roff said. "John Neal did the city of Bradenton a favor by holding these properties until the city could buy them."
Carrie Whaley, who owns Yoga Arts at 1122 12th St. W. in Village of the Arts about 12 blocks from the park site, likes the idea of a preserve on the creek.
"I think it's a great idea," Whaley said. "We have kids so even walking, picnics, taking a Frisbee or sitting by the water would be wonderful. We also have paddleboards so if there was a soft boat launch there, we would use it for exercise and fun."
Access to the creek for canoeing, kayaking and fishing would be part of the preserve, said Bradenton Planning Director Tim Polk.
Whaley said the preserve fits into a long-term "eco-tourism" concept proposed for the Village of the Arts.
"The larger tapestry plan for the Village of the Arts area includes an idea for some green trails, bike rentals and a potential for eco-tourism so people can spend the whole day in the area," Whaley said.
Although Bradenton owns the property, it could be developed for housing, Roff said.
"The city council needs to vote on the preserve concept," Roff said. "The other members of the city council and mayor want to hear if this is what the community wants."
Roff believes a vote may come before city council in roughly six weeks after an environmental study is completed.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond.