The Polk County Commission voted unanimously today to pay $460,000 to buy 31 acres to expand its holdings in the Crooked Lake West project along U.S. 27.
The purchase will improve access to the southern end of the property via a private road and also an opportunity to advance plans for hydrologic restoration of the property.
The Crooked Lake West project consists of 11,000 acres involving more than 100 property owners. As of last fall when a draft master plan was presented to the County Commission, 5,883 acres had been acquired.
The land is composed of either improved pasture or mostly undeveloped subdivisions containing scrub, marshes and forests between Alturas-Babson Park Cutoff Road and U.S. 98.
Polk County has been regularly acquiring small parcels through donations after owners or their heirs realized the land was undevelopable because there was either no access to county roads or the land was unsuitable for development.
This is the first significant acquisition in some time. County officials said other similar purchases may be forthcoming if funds can be secured.
The cost of Tuesday’s purchase was split between the remaining environmental lands acquisition fund and the stormwater tax fund.
Commissioners also agreed to fund a contract with a consultant Tuesday to assess water quality issues in the portions of the Peace River and Kissimmee River basins in Polk County.
The Crooked Lake West property’s role in this is to find ways to reduce direct stormwater runoff into Crooked Lake, the only water body in Polk designated as an Outstanding Florida Water. Currently the land drains into the lake via some agricultural canals that were constructed decades ago. Those canals are the target of the mitigation measures.