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Improving Moccasin Wallow Road will cost millions. Local developer offers big discount

Who is Pat Neal?

Developer, former Florida Senator, a look at Pat Neal's career to date.
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Developer, former Florida Senator, a look at Pat Neal's career to date.

Local developer Pat Neal doubled down on his previous offer to help the county build out Moccasin Wallow Road in Parrish for about half the cost.

Neal made a surprise appearance at the Board of County Commissioner’s capital improvement plan budget workshop on Wednesday afternoon, requesting the board to set aside about $150,000 toward a preliminary engineering study.

The study would include environmental surveying, right of way needs, corridor analysis and more. County staff said it would be a positive first step toward receiving outside funds from the state or federal government.

“Getting the study done opens the door for a ton of possibilities,” said Public Works Director Chad Butzow. “If you’re looking for a way to get outside money, this is a great place to start.”

In a presentation, Neal boasted of his company’s ability to build roads for about 50 to 60 percent of what it would typically cost a governmental body alone. He had previously pitched the idea to improve Moccasin Wallow at a board meeting in April.

“The full capacity of Neal is working to solve the problem,” Neal said at the time.

The basis of the proposal would be for Neal’s company to upgrade the road to four lanes, while working with the county and possible state or federal allocations for funding reimbursement.

The county is already planning to spend about $24 million on Moccasin Wallow lane widening improvements on a 1.5-mile stretch between U.S. 41 and Artisan Lakes Parkway. There are no immediate plans to improve the road east of Interstate 75, according to the county’s capital improvement plan.

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An artistic rendering depicts the expected design for some of the townhomes to be included in the North River Ranch master plan community by Neal Land & Neighborhoods. The planning commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of more than 2,300 acres of the project in the northwest corner of Mocassin Wallow Road and U.S. 301. Provided

An improved road would benefit Neal’s master plan community, North River Ranch in Parrish, which is expected to bring about 6,000 new homes to the area around Buckeye Road and Moccasin Wallow Road just west of U.S. 301.

The first step for a partnership would be for commissioners to include the upgrade in its capital improvement plan, but Commissioner Betsy Benac noted that obtaining funding assistance from other government sources requires the plan to be on the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization’s long range plan, as well.

The next MPO meeting is in September.

Commissioners could not approve the $150,000 allocation Wednesday, but Commissioner Stephen Jonsson agreed to add the item to the agenda for Thursday’s Land Use meeting, where the board will be able to vote on the matter.

“We know there’s no better negotiator who can do it for half the price,” said Jonsson.

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