Palmetto neighborhood could soon have new park

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Pastor Lawrence Livingston and his wife Clifford have been working for the last 15 years to bring a county park into their neighborhood. They live in Palmetto’s Washington Park Neighborhood that borders 88 acres of land known as the Washington Park borrow pit.

“In the early 60’s the state purchased it for a borrow pit so they could create the [U.S.] 41overpass in the north Manatee County area,” said Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallen.

Gallen has been working with the Washington Park residents to help them come up with a good use for the land.

“We have looked at what we could do with it as an economic engine for the area, filling it in, development. Both of those, the price tag has been astronomical, upwards of $20 million just to fill it in.”

Neighbors want to see the park returned to its natural habitat with a large lake built for water sports like rowing and canoeing.

Tuesday morning, the Manatee County Commissioners voted unanimously to hire a consultant to perform a feasibility report and analyze the soil and determine if it possible to create a nature preserve on the land that has been taken over by invasive plants.

“That is what we would shoot for, creating more bio diversity over there, having it open to the public with a board walk around the whole lake and then having a recreational area for a farm league of rowing or kayaking or canoeing,” said Gallen.

Tuesday’s move by the county commission was a positive sign for the Washington Park residents.

“The commissioners took some ownership that they are on board as well. They see the need and we haven’t had that strong commitment before,” said Livingston.

Once the feasibility report is completed the next steps for the county will be to conduct more detailed topographic analysis of the wetland area on the land.