Old Florida Plantation Development Purchased; Can’t Be Used For Reservoir To Help Polk Water Supply

The former Old Florida Plantation property, which was once proposed for a megadevelopment on the southern shore of Lake Hancock, has a different future.

The Florida Department of Transportation and Southwest Florida Water Management District officials agreed last fall on a $12.2 million purchase part of the property Swiftmud officials purchased in 2003 for $30.5 million to implement a proposal to construct a wetlands treatment area on former mined lands south of the lake to reduce pollution flowing downstream to the Peace River.

Lake Hancock, which suffered decades of pollution from sewer plants in Lakeland and Auburndale, stormwater runoff from as far away as Lake Gibson in north Lakeland, is one of the most polluted lakes in Florida.

The FDOT purchase of about 1,104 acres of the former 3,347 development occurred in connection with plans to build a new toll road east of the lake.

The potential use of the property for water supply storage arose this week during a Polk County Commission annual retreat. Commissioner Neil Combee, a former Swiftmud Governing Board member, asked whether Polk could pressure Swiftmud officials to follow through with earlier plans to sell off part of the property for development.

Combee said the proceeds from the purchase of the property might be able toa advance alternative water supply projects being considered by Polk offiiclals.

He was unaware of the recent purchase, which occurred after he left the board.

Sierra has been following the disposition of the property in connection with attempts to develop an alternate entrance to the Marshall Hampton Reserve. The current entrance site lies in the path of the Central Polk Parkway, a toll road that will be constructed between State Road 60 and the Polk Parkway.

Posted in Group Conservation Issues.