SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - There is a great fear that 23.4 acres just east of the Celery Fields could one day end up in the hands of a developer. The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is doing everything they can to stop that from happening.
“This is a habitat for wildlife, it has the potential to become part of that conservation area, which would be 1,300 contiguous acres of land for open space, for recreational purposes, for access to the public,” said Lee Ann Rodriguez, Director of Philanthropy for the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast.
The Foundation is currently under contract to purchase this property known as Graceland. It sits off Palmer Boulevard near Tatum Ridge Elementary School. The total price tag is around two-and-a-half million dollars and they need to raise $650,000 before the end of the month to take the next step in making the purchase of this land a reality.
“We are running out of time, we are on a fast track trying to secure funds, we have some major deadlines,” said Rodriguez.
Just down the road, residents were able to block a recycling plant from being built near the Celery Fields. The Graceland property currently has a horse ranch and stables situated on part of it.
Kimberly Eastep lives down the road and has two horses at the ranch. She’s happy to see the conservation group making an aggressive effort to buy the land, because she says it’s very concerning what would happen if a development was built on this property, including many horses losing their home.
“It can be a very scary thing," said Eastep. "It’s going to upset the whole environment, the traffic, the people, the children, the tourists and we want to preserve that.”
For more information on how you can help with the conservation of this property, you can log onto conservationfoundation.com/Graceland or call 941-918-2100.