City of North Port weighs potential public-private partnership for Warm Mineral Springs

Plans for the opening of Warm Mineral Springs Park in North Port are set to be discussed at a...
Plans for the opening of Warm Mineral Springs Park in North Port are set to be discussed at a special meeting on December 8th.(Jace Harper)
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 3:26 PM EDT
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NORTH PORT Fla. (WWSB) - The City of North Port is entering the evaluation and negotiation phase with the development group with which it is exploring a potential partnership for Warm Mineral Springs Park.

On Sept. 12, the City of North Port received two unsolicited public private partnership conceptual proposals related to Warm Mineral Springs Park. In January, residents spoke at a meeting to express concerns over a private partnership.

The City Commission accepted the conceptual proposal from WMS Development Group LLC for review. At a Nov. 2022, meeting, the detailed proposal was reviewed and accepted after the Commission made the preliminary determination that the proposal is for a facility or project that serves a public purpose and meets the definition of a “qualifying project.”

“The City is interested in a partnership that aligns with our shared vision for the future of the springs and enhances and protects this important asset without burdening City taxpayers,” said City Manager, Jerome Fletcher. “We are excited to bring a higher quality experience to Warm Mineral Springs while preserving the cultural and environmental value of this historical site.”

The City is using independent research that includes a geotechnical study, statistically valid community survey for public feedback and a wildlife survey. Comprehensive Plan amendment options are scheduled for consideration during a City Commission Workshop coming up on April 10, 2023.

The park remains temporarily closed following damage from Hurricane Ian. The calculation of extension for passholders will be based upon the closure date of Sept. 27, 2022, and the anticipated reopening date is April 7. Valid pass expiration dates will be extended the length of the closure, not to exceed 191 days.