Hernando Beach could soon get a beach but not on the coast

HERNANDO BEACH, Fla. — Hernando Beach could someday have a beach but not on the coast. Instead it could be in an old mining area, raising some major question to residents. 

Forrest Bennett says the small community located on the nature coast of Hernando County was only named ‘Hernando Beach’ to draw people in to buy homes.

"There is no beach here, it was designed as a residential community, not as a tourist attraction," said Bennett.

But some county commissioners want to change that, saying the county needs more beaches for residents and tourists to go.

"Go to Pine Island on the weekend and try to get into the parking lot after 11 a.m., you won’t get into the parking lot," said County Commission Chairman, Steve Champion. 

Champion and others want to put a beach in Hernando Beach, not on the coast, but next to it in an old mining area that is now part of the Weekiwachee Preserve.

"It’s a jewel that we could really open up and let the entire county use it," said Champion

The proposed plan map shows a 30-acre section of the 11,000-acre preserve made into a recreation area with more than 500 parking spots for visitors.

"This is something Hernando County really needs," said Champion.

But some say it's a bad idea.

"The concept of building an artificial beach on an abandoned mining rock pit in an alligator habitat when there are beaches nearby is insanity," said Bennett.

Bennett believes alligators and increased traffic on narrow Shoal Line Road are just a few of the problems with the plan.

"The park that they proposed has 546 parking spaces. 546 vehicles stretched end to end is over a mile long. It's our only access for emergency vehicles and a terrible idea," said Bennett. 

Hernando County Commissioners will vote on Tuesday whether to move forward with the concept. If the concept is approved there will be many public meetings to discuss the proposed plan.

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