Pasco County Commissioners voted to convert an abandoned golf course into a park, and even agreed to split the $1.2 Million price with area neighbors. But those neighbors say the county got them into a bad deal, because they learned the golf course is contaminated.
“The building should be demolished, it should be maintained and mowed,” said Susan Levine.
She and almost everyone in Gulf Harbors agrees that the abandoned golf course in the center of their subdivision is an eyesore.
Last summer, Pasco County agreed to turn the golf course into a passive park and pay half the purchase price.
Neighbors would be responsible for the rest of and future maintenance costs through a special tax.
They were told would cost about $100 per homeowner, per year.
“Appraisers time and time again valued it under $300,000,” said Diane Kobernick.
But the county appraiser felt it was worth twice that and even agreed to pay the seller $1.2 Million.
Neighbors Levine and Kopernick didn't think the proposed sale was such a good deal, believing the county was essentially bailing out multiple lienholders.
But the county managed to convince enough neighbors to vote for it.
Only after the vote did neighbors learn the land was contaminated by arsenic and other carcinogens, which a report prepared on behalf of the county says could cost up to $4.7 Million to clean up.
“If you say you're gonna be charging them a hundred dollars a year, then all of the sudden you can get a bill of $4.7 Million, that's no longer $100 a year. That's a lot of money,” said Kobernick.
Kopernick and levine, neither of whom is an attorney, sued the county to stop the deal.
“Had Mrs. Kobernick and I not filed the lawsuit to appeal this resolution ordinance, they would have closed on the property,” said Levine.
Kobernick and Levine are no longer alone in their fight.
About 200 neighbors attended a recent forum they organized to educate neighbors about the ongoing court case.
“We reached out to the county and asked them to cancel the contract based on our appeal, we asked them to cancel it based on contamination,” Levine told neighbors at the meeting.
Kobernick and Levine even took on the county's legal team before a judge.
“The county did respond to the plaintiffs' concerns and in no way desires to silence them,” said Pasco County Staff Attorney Nicki Spiritos.
The judge ruled against the county's motion to dismiss, keeping the case in court.
Levine says that’s good news for the neighbors.
“Everything was going to be on taxpayers' backs,” she said.
“We should have the rights to know what exactly we're getting into,” said Kopernick.
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