FC&EG wants to delay Cone Ranch proposal

The St. Petersburg Times reported on their web site this afternoon that Florida Conservation & Environment Group, or FC&EG, have written to the Hillsborough County Commission that they want to delay the negotiations between them and the County because of Commissioner Jim Norman's recent call to look at consolidating the water departments of the County with the three municipalities inside the County: Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City.

Last week the BOCC voted to authorize County Attorney Pat Bean to dig up $400,000 for a study.

Of course, there was one little problem with that:  Mayor Pam Iorio of Tampa hadn't been consulted about it.

A group of activists have been concerned allowing FC&EG to broker to sell Cone Ranch for the last year since the idea was first discussed . They're simple in their demands:  They want the County's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Preservation Program to purchase the property.

CL spoke this afternoon with one of the leading activists on wanting to save Cone Ranch, Kent Bailey. He said " these guys haven't gone away (referring to FC&EG).  They've just slipped over to one side.  Until we get Cone Ranch over to ELAPP, we're still going to have to fight the battle."

Bailey didn't want to comment directly on Commissioner Norman's request to study consolidating the water departments of the three cities with the County, other than to suggest that "the timing is very interesting."

In the letter written to the County's Edith Stewart,  Ken Jones with FC&EG writes:

As you know, FCEG began its discussions with the county regarding Cone Ranch in mid-2008 and

we continue to believe strongly in the possibilities of public/private partnerships and in the

preservation of environmentally sensitive land.  However, and disappointingly, FCEG is notifying

you and the Panel that while it will continue monitoring matters related to the preservation of Cone

Ranch (and remains highly interested and available to participate in its preservation and

restoration) it will be difficult to properly engage in any course of action until Hillsborough

County has completed its evaluation of the potential water system consolidation.

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