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Sarasota Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 5 years ago

Palmer Ranch park takes shape

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Palmer Ranch residents soon will see their new park taking shape off McIntosh Road.

Last year, Palmer Ranch owner and developer Hugh Culverhouse Jr. donated 82 acres of undeveloped land to Sarasota County for the creation of The Culverhouse Nature Park. Construction on the entrance to the facility is set to begin this spring.

George Tatge, a manager in the Sarasota County Parks and Recreations Department, told the Sarasota Observer that staff met with its Construction Management Services team last week to begin designing the entryway, which will include a fence and a driveway.

Work on what has been the park’s most publicized feature, the Culverhouse Community Garden, will get under way as soon as the county finishes the entrance.

The park will be bordered by The Legacy Trail to the west, The Hamptons subdivision to the southeast and the Wellington Chase subdivision to the northeast.

Because deed restrictions prevent many Palmer Ranch residents from keeping a garden that’s visible from the road, Catherine Dente, one of the community garden’s organizers, said 60 out of 75 garden plots already had been reserved, at a cost of $50 each.

With deer and feral hogs abundant in the area, the gardeners also plan to erect a fence around the garden, before they put any seeds into the ground.

The fence will cost $13,000, with a $10,000 grant covering most of that cost. Sales of garden-plot reservations will be used to make up the balance.

First, though, the Culverhouse Community Garden group will erect a shed for future use. The goal is to get that structure up by late this month.

Eventually, the community garden also will include a 1,500-gallon cistern, to irrigate the plots via a pump operated by solar-energy panels.

“Within a few months, any visitor or citizen will be allowed in to visit the very beginnings of the park, and that’s exciting,” said Dente.

The community garden plots will be tilled in August, she said, in preparation for the fall planting season.

Future park amenities include the formal start of The Legacy Trail, parking for cars and bicycles, a pavilion, nature trails and a playground. The Friends of Palmer Ranch Parks is working closely with Sarasota County staff to create the facilities.

However, Tatge has warned Palmer Ranch residents not to be disappointed with the timetable for the work, because the park features will be constructed in phases. Tatge said it would take staff time to finish the nature trails and publicize the park as the head of The Legacy Trail.

Still, he said, “We’re creating this park more quickly by implementing it in phases, and we ask for the residents’ patience as we plan it correctly with the help of the community.”

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