County buying beachfront home to add to public park

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ENGLEWOOD, Fla. - Sarasota County is buying a house and property overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in order to expand a public beach. It comes with a nearly two and half million dollar price tag.

At a little under two acres, the property sits next door to Blind Pass Beach Park on Manasota Key.

It's not too often you hear about a local government buying beachfront homes. In this case, Sarasota County is using a voter-approved program aimed at preserving public access before it's too late.

"I think it's beautiful." Paul Brayton loves to ride his motorcycle to Blind Pass Beach Park. "You are looking at the Gulf of Mexico, with the sea oats, and you can park right here."

Paul will soon have more places to park, check out the views, and lounge on the beach. Sarasota County has snatched up 1.67 acres on both the bay and beach side of Manasota Key for a cool $2.3 million.

"We are always looking for the opportunity to expand beach access." Director of Parks and Recreation Carolyn Brown says the property, which has a dock, pool, and 3,000 square foot house on it, has been on the county's radar for decades. "We are now able to get it. It's a great opportunity because that opportunity probably won’t be there in the future."

The property was submitted through the Environmental and Parkland Acquisition Program. In order to continue to provide more public access as growth comes our way, more property tax money goes into it. "It's a voter-approved program that allows for lands natural in nature to be purchased for the future of Sarasota County residents," says Brown.

The program was initially approved for thousands of acres of sensitive lands in 1999, and re-approved in 2005. Added on was money for smaller parcels needed for access. "Instead of the big environmentally-sensitive lands, this is more focused on neighborhood oriented properties."

The home and the pool there will be staying. The county is working on an agreement with The Hermitage artist retreat next door, who bring in artists from around the world in hopes of them implementing the area into their works. "They can expand their services and provide notoriety to Sarasota County into the arts," says Brown.

Another little piece of paradise, set to be owned by the public. It's not a done deal yet, however. The county approved the contract Tuesday and it still needs to be signed. But barring any major changes, the deal will happen.