A new agreement between a private owner and the same land-conservation organization working with the adjacent Quads parcels and Bobby Jones Golf Club will set aside nearly 50 acres of green space just east of Celery Fields.
The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast announced on Thursday the agreement to protect 48.44 acres for perpetuity. The announcement said the landowner, which the foundation didn’t identify, finalized the conservation easement agreement on Dec. 30.
“We are very grateful to this landowner for his commitment to conservation,” said Christine P. Johnson, the president of Conservation Foundation. “The protection of these 48 acres ensures the scenic vistas viewed from the top of the Celery Fields hill will be enjoyed for generations to come and provides valuable environmental benefits to our entire community.”
In June, county commissioners agreed to a similar easement with the Sarasota Audubon Society and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast to protect the 33 county owned acres west of Celery Fields at Apex Road and Palmer Boulevard, referred to as the quads. At the same time, the county rezoned the northeast, southeast and southwest parcels of the Quads to Government Use, which means the land can now only be used for government, civic, educational and recreational purposes.
Plans for the quads will be unveiled soon. Willis Smith Construction was selected in September as the manager of the project, joining Kimley Horn as the site engineering firm and owners’ representative Steve Suau of Progressive Water Resources.
Last week, city leaders agreed to set aside 261 acres for a preserved nature park and new 27-hole golf facility at Bobby Jones.
The foundation said the new land easement east of Celery Field could end up serving as habitat for birds attracted to grasslands, such as the loggerhead shrike and the eastern meadowlark. Celery Fields’ wetlands, attract a wide variety of species and is a favorite among birdwatchers.
Beyond the perpetual greenspace, the foundation said the easement will also assist in helping filter pollutants from runoff sourced from a wide area north of Phillippi Creek. Likewise, the Bobby Jones easement is seen as a critical component of the same watershed which eventually leads to the creek and into Sarasota Bay.