Property Along Peace River Preserved (FL)

Punta Gorda, FL, 2/7/2007 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation organization, announced today that it has preserved a 1.25-acre property along the Peace River, the key piece in a linear riverfront park planned by the City of Punta Gorda. TPL purchased the property from Bonaventure Land Holdings LLC and will enter into a lease-purchase agreement with the City of Punta Gorda for a period of three years, which will allow the city time to secure additional funds to complete the purchase.

This area along the Peace River near downtown Punta Gorda was once filled with single-family residences. However, in 2004, most of the area was destroyed by Hurricane Charley. Instead of allowing redevelopment in the area, which is vulnerable to flooding and wind damage, the city proposed acquisition of the land for a waterfront park, which would also provide for flood relief in the area. Charlotte County and the City of Punta Gorda received a HUD Federal Disaster Relief grant, part of which was earmarked for land acquisition in flood-prone areas. The grant will provide the bulk of the funds for this purchase. The city also will be applying for a grant from the Florida Communities Trust, a state grant program, for the balance of the purchase price as well as to fund additional purchases in this same area in an effort to complete the planned linear park.

“This land preservation acquisition demonstrates the public good accomplished through partnerships formed with the Trust for Public Land,” said Bob Herbert, Charlotte County’s Director of Recover. “Charlotte County has benefited from many of these partnerships with TPL in the past preserving hundreds of acres for future generations. We are very pleased with this outcome rising out of the rubble of the 2004 Hurricane season and look to other preservation initiatives spearheaded by the County and made possible by TPL. The fact that the City of Punta Gorda is part of this, and the end beneficiary of the land, shows that much can be done with this type of partnership.”

This property is just one of many in a multi-block area that will be linked together to form the linear park, which has been in the city’s Open Space Plan since 2003. Several parcels in the area are already in public ownership, and the city is seeking grants to purchase the few remaining privately owned parcels to complete the plan.

“The Trust for Public Land has helped us immensely in acquiring and preserving land that will provide area for recreation as well as open space and flood plain mitigation,” said Howard Kunik, Punta Gorda City Manager. “This acquisition will provide an additional link to our entire public waterfront open space network, and especially on the east side, between a downtown area destroyed by Hurricane Charley, an historic area, and a neighborhood that has been lacking in park space.”

The park will provide much-needed recreation and open space in the underserved and historic Trabue Woods Neighborhood. Plans for the park include fishing and viewing platforms over the river, picnic areas, and bike trails. In addition to providing opportunities for passive and active recreation, the park also will protect the mangrove forest along the river’s shoreline.

“It has been a pleasure to work through the complexities of this projectwith such cooperative partners including the former owners of the property as well as Meridian Services Group which is helping the county administer the federal grant,” said Mary Robbins, TPL project manager. “My hope now is that additional grant funds can be secured so we can collectively move forward to complete the entire riverfront park plan.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 46 states. In Florida, TPL has protected more than 300 sites – over 200,000 acres at a market value of about $500 million. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please contact us at 850-222-7911 or visit us on the web at