tampabay.com

Wall Springs Park will be getting a new entrance

The county buys property that opens an area for a new road.

By Theresa Blackwell, Times Staff Writer
Published March 13, 2008


PALM HARBOR - Wall Springs Park will have a new northern entrance from Wai Lani Road in the next few years, with a paved road visitors can use to travel north into the more undeveloped acres or south to the park's picnic pavilions and spring.

Visitors who use the new road should take a moment to remember the late Gladys Nissinen, who once lived on the intersection's southeast corner.

She died in July 2007 at 93. She donated her land to the American Cancer Society, and now it will also benefit all Pinellas County residents who value county parks.

Pinellas County Commissioners voted to buy Nissinen's former home and lot at 710 Wai Lani Road for $205,000 from the American Cancer Society at a meeting Monday.

The stucco house will be demolished and the property will add 12,445 square feet to Wall Springs Park. The lot will also provide a buffer on the east side of the planned park roadway.

"If the house had continued to be lived in, there might have been some concerns about traffic," said Joe Lupardus, operations manager for the county's parks and recreation department.

Lupardus said the county keeps an eye out for parcels that adjoin the park. "If they come on the market," he said, "then the county evaluates them for acquisition."

According to county documents, officials negotiated the purchase price of $205,000 with the American Cancer Society, the same value an independent appraiser set on the property.

The total cost, with appraisal fee and estimated demolition costs, will be $218,660, and it will come from Penny for Pinellas funds.

The county property appraiser's assessment of the property was included in information received by the commissioners - a reform instituted after the purchase of Property Appraiser Jim Smith's flood-prone property in 2007 for nearly four times the value his own office gave it in 2006.

The Property Appraiser gave the Wai Lani Road property a market value of $199,000 and a comparable sales value of $248,100.

Times news researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report. Theresa Blackwell can be reached at tblackwell@sptimes.com or 727 445-4170.

Fast facts

Park history

Pinellas County's Wall Springs Park, about 210 acres:

1989 - County acquires 84 acres containing the spring

2001 - Part of original purchase opens as park

2001 to 2005 - County buys 125 acres farther north, most from the McMullen family

2005 - With amenities added, rest of original park acres open

2008 - County agrees to buy a small parcel on Wai Lani Road

2009 - Construction expected to begin on northern park acres

Source: Pinellas County