Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eagle Lake Park opens at last

Eagle Lake Park is set to officially open at 10:00 a.m. on March 30. I have been looking forward to the opening of this park for years. Residents of Pinellas County have been driving past the property at the intersection of Belleair and Keene since 1998 knowing the county owned the parcel but unable to access it. Total cost to date for the purchase of the 163 acres in tow parcels and construction of the park amenities is slightly less than $24-million.

The land was the Taylor family homestead and John Taylor III was the last family member to live on the property in 2006. The Taylors came to Pinellas in 1868 to grow citrus and raise cattle. The original John Stansel Taylor was Pinellas County’s first state senator and the county park on 8th Avenue SW in Largo is named after him. There are still 18 acres of orange groves in the park that will be maintained along with the 1929 tow-story family house. Amenities at the new park include a dog park, ball fields, playgrounds, wetlands with boardwalks, nature trails and parking for almost 300 cars.

I live near the intersection of Belleair and Highland and am really excited to have a new alternative to the Largo Central Park Nature Preserve for the wildlife photography that I love. Pinellas County took a step by going ahead with this park in the face of difficult economic times, severe budget problems and often extreme criticism from some residents. This is valuable real estate but another park is much more important to the county than more houses or stores.

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