Dunedin may revisit park purchase after outcry

- The controversy over a Dunedin park reached a tipping point during a City Commission meeting Thursday, but all sides might have worked toward a possible resolution.

The debate centers around nearly nine acres of land connecting to Hammock Park. It's owned by Our Lady of Lourdes church but many residents view it as park of the park.

The church, however, has been trying to sell the property for $1.2 million, citing concerns for liability if someone were to get hurt on their property.

The church first offered the land to the city in February, but commissioners declined the purchase because the price did not fit into Dunedin's strategic plan for parks. Our Lady of Lourdes has since agreed to sell the land to a developer who plans to build townhomes on it.

Hundreds of residents packed the meeting, urging commissioners to revisit purchasing the land.

"I feel completely betrayed right now," said one neighbor.

"The trails and the parks have led me to be able to be a part of the community," said another resident.

Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski said she thinks there might be ways for the city to figure out how to make a purchase possible.

"There are new possibilities that we were not aware of at the time we made the decision, so I think what we did tonight was we listened to our residents and we're going to try to fix this," she said.

The mayor, who said she hopes for a decision soon, and commissioners said community fundraising may help the city come up with the necessary funds.
 

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