Treasure Island residents rally to save city park

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It’s a fight to save a park in Pinellas County. Neighbors in Treasure Island are rallying to protect their playground from being sold and developed.

It’s known as Triangle Park, and it sits right at the entrance of the Isle of Palms community. It isn’t even half an acre, but there’s shade, grass, a playground, and even a pair of shuffleboard courts.

The problem is, the City of Treasure Island doesn’t own the park.

“The city owns a third of the park, there’s two-thirds of it that’s owned by a private family,” said City Commissioner Tyler Payne. “In 1996, the city entered into a 100-year lease agreement to lease the park from them for $10 a month.”

Yet not even a quarter into the century long deal, the owners want to sell their two parcels, and are giving the city first dibs to buy the lots.

We’re told the family approached leaders last summer and want an answer by this September.

“They had an appraisal done, and we just recently had our own appraisal done, so that was really the key part that we were waiting for in order for the commission to make a decision on it,” Payne said.

Folks passionate about saving the park have put up signs, handed out fliers, and started a petition.  A group even spoke out at Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting, fighting to save the space.

“It’s a small piece of land but we get a lot out of it,” one man said. “It’s really the only connection that we have with each other as a community and the only communal space that we have.”

“Purchasing or owning parks in a city, in a municipality, actually pays for itself due typically to the increased values of all the other properties that benefit from the park,” said another man.

“We’re stressing to the city they need to purchase those two lots and they need to rezone them for recreation and open space to make sure they’re protected in perpetuity,” another man said.

According to officials, the owners say the land is worth $438,000. However, the city says it’s appraised at $358,000.

It's money some people feel would be better spent on other needs in Treasure Island.

“We’re gonna have to find about $400,000 to shave off the budget in order to pay for it so that’s gonna be a difficult task,” Payne said.

The next City Commission meeting is on July 24, and officials tell FOX 13 News the park will be on the workshop agenda. Leaders will likely vote on buying the land next month.