Popular spring sits empty for the first time in decades

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NORTH PORT, Fla. - Those showing up at Warm Mineral Springs in North Port Monday were greeted by closed signs. It also means nearly four dozen workers are without jobs and local businesses are already suffering.

It’s the first time anyone around there can remember the attraction being closed since it was built more than 50 years ago.

Even on a cloudy rainy day, Warm Mineral Springs would typically have plenty of customers in the water, restaurant, or spa; not now.

"It's like a funeral. Once we clean this place out that will be it." Judd Carper is one of the last former employees out. Everything went, from the offices, restaurant, and gift shop. The visitors keep coming, however. "There was a whole bunch of people here this morning. They just want to go swimming."

Fewer are coming by, thanks to places like the Warm Mineral Springs Motel, where manager Roger Herber has been calling those with reservations to let them know. “I assume at least 25% of the people we called were cancellations. They were coming here primarily for the springs."

County and city leaders were unable to come to an agreement until recently on how to take over the spring they purchased jointly two and a half years ago. A short term plan is now in the works, but the process could take months.

It’s an impact on the community that Herber says many may soon realize. "People who spend money at the springs spend money here. They spend money at the restaurants, they buy gas as the gas station, the whole community."

County officials tell ABC 7 that in the next few days a walk-through will be conducted, changing locks and a temporary construction fence will be put up. A 24-hour security guard company is already in place.

We are told the process of re-opening the attraction should take three months minimum, meaning nobody will be taking a dip anytime soon. In meantime, both local governments and taxpayers are missing out on revenue generated at the site.