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Foundation raises $1 million for Braden River Preserve as deadline looms

The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast announced Friday that they have met their fundraising goal of $1 million to support the purchase of the Braden River Preserve property.
The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast announced Friday that they have met their fundraising goal of $1 million to support the purchase of the Braden River Preserve property. Herald file photo

The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast announced Friday that it has met a fundraising goal of $1 million to support the purchase of the property that could become the Braden River Preserve.

The Manatee County commissioners will decide on Tuesday whether or not to levy a tax on 1,440 residents surrounding the 33-acre site off of the Braden River in question. Developer Pat Neal is offering to sell the land for $3 million by March 31, but if an agreement isn’t met in time, he will build 32 homes at the intersection of Pine Meadow Way and Club House Drive.

The foundation has also acquired an adjacent 11 acres that would be added to the land, making for a 44-acre preserve if commissioners vote to establish a municipal services taxing unit (MSTU) over a 30-year period.

“Ten days ago, the Manatee County Board of Commissioners asked Conservation Foundation to help, and the community rallied quickly and decisively,” foundation president Christine Johnson said in a press release. “The breadth and depth of the pledges are amazing. We are proud to help and humbled by the outpouring of support. This is a rare opportunity for a community to save land from development. We hope the commissioners accept the community's generous gift.”

The $1 million — possibly more, if additional funds are raised by Tuesday — will be used to offset the cost to the taxpayers. Some opponents of the MSTU say that this will not change their minds, as they either do not want a preserve or they didn’t want to be taxed.

Anyone who wants to donate can do so by visiting www.conservationfoundation.com/bradenriver or contacting Andia Piekarz at andria@conservationfoundation.com.

Hannah Morse: 941-745-7055, @mannahhorse

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