Pasco school board approves sale of zephyrhills site for likely wawa _ tampa bay times

The new owner, GH&G Florida, is expected to bring Wawa to the intersection.

In earlier versions of the contract, GH&G was to purchase the full 15-acre site, known as the Hercules Park complex, for $2.32 million. That amount exceeded the offer made by the city of Zephyrhills, which wanted to protect the corner as an entry to the city and develop other sections of the property as a park.

City residents vocally opposed the sale to the developer, saying the school district should side with the public interest.

Deputy superintendent Ray Gadd said Tuesday that the school district never disliked the idea of a park on the location, which sits between Zephyrhills High and Woodland Elementary schools. Rather, the School Board wanted to make the financially prudent move.

With the new deal, the district will work with the city government to find the best way to keep the remainder of the land in use for the public benefit, Gadd said.

That deal might be a 100-year, dollar-per-year lease, a government property transfer or perhaps a joint use agreement.

“It will be up to Zephyrhills to determine what they want that park to look like,” Gadd said.

The site has sat unused since 2011, when the county government closed the swimming pool it operated there through a lease agreement with the school system. City residents and officials have talked about possible uses for the property ever since.

If the sides can reach an agreement, City Manager Steve Spina said, government leaders want to have a passive park at the Hercules site.

“We don’t want to do something that will cut down all the trees,” Spina said, observing that it is one of the last sites in the city with such a large canopy.

“We’re not sure about the pool at all, in terms of costs for redoing it, operating it,” he added. “That’s something we’re going to have to look at.”

City leaders have come to accept the expected Wawa service station and convenience store, Spina said, and now look forward to working with the school district on the remainder of the property. The city also retains the $1.7 million it had offered to buy the site itself, which allows officials to breathe a bit easier within their budget.

“We’re excited about that property,” Spina said. “We have been all along.”

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at jsolochek@tampabay. com or (813) 909-4614. Follow @JeffSolochek.

In other business

The Pasco County School Board on Tuesday:

• Heard proposals to reorganize the district’s communication, purchasing and construction departments, and merge several departments, into a new Office of Resource Services. The recommendations would include adding two new jobs.

• Approved the appointment of Rayann Mitchell as director of teaching and learning, and the resignation of professional development director Chris Christoff.

• Considered on first reading amendments to the Student Code of Conduct. Superintendent Kurt Browning said additional changes are likely for the second and final reading later this spring.

• Received an annual report from the district Investment Oversight Committee. Chairman Al Torrence said the district had earned $1.1 million in interest last year, while saving more than $3 million by refinancing a certificate of participation bond.

Pasco School Board approves sale of Zephyrhills site for likely Wawa 04/05/16

[Last modified: Thursday, April 7, 2016 10:08am]

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