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Sarasota Thursday, Jul. 8, 2010 7 years ago

Proposed park starts dispute

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Three months after a dispute erupted between three Sarasota neighborhoods over a proposed park at Harbor Acres, a similar controversy is brewing in a different part of town.

A longtime homeowner is trying to sell her property in the Gardens of Ringling Park neighborhood, but one of her neighbors is objecting to the sale.

Ruth Ott, a widow who has owned the home at 2525 Ringling Blvd. since 1966, is ready to move. She said the 3,000-square-foot, four bedroom home is too big for her to maintain anymore.

Ott had discussed signing a preliminary agreement with the Conservation Foundation, which would buy the property and then sell it to the county, which would develop a park on the triangle-shaped lot at the intersection of Ringling Boulevard, Main Street and Jefferson Avenue.

About three years ago, former City Commissioner Danny Bilyeu asked Ott if she would be interested in selling. She said she would and began a petition drive to see if her neighbors would support a park on her property.

“I went up and down Main and Ringling and Colorado Street,” Ott said. “Thirty neighbors signed it.”
The Gardens of Ringling Park Neighborhood Association also supported the move.

One neighbor who is not supportive is Donn Tipton, who lives a couple houses away from Ott. He did not sign the petition and said he was not aware of the neighborhood association meeting in which it was discussed.

“I’m against it for several reasons,” he said. “There’s no parking, so it will create even more congestion, it will attract more transients and Payne Park is just a half-mile away.”

Tipton said he’s contacted more than one-dozen residents who also oppose a park there, and he’s considering asking the City Commission to intervene, just the way the residents of Harbor Acres and Bay Point Park did, when Hudson Bayou residents nominated a Harbor Acres property to become a park, but never notified Harbor Acres residents of their intentions.

The city’s Parks Advisory Board withdrew that Orange Avenue property from consideration.

Tipton hopes to persuade the advisory board to do the same, because he objects to government funds being used to purchase property, when the government is also severely cutting services and jobs.

“I don’t think it’s a wise thing to do right now,” he said.

Ott did not want to reveal the sale price that was offered to her, but, according to the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office, her property had a 2009 value of $173,200.

Ott said she was sorry that it has caused a rift with Tipton, who she said had been a good neighbor.

“I feel bad this has caused him to be so unhappy,” she said. “But my children are urging me to move.”

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