Volusia OK’s funds for purchase of 128-acre conservation area
As more of Central Florida’s vacant land makes way for urban development, Volusia County and the City of DeLand are uniting to save a piece of wilderness already surrounded by homes and roads on DeLand’s east side.
“This piece of land is going to be swallowed up,” County Chair Jeff Brower warned, as he sought support for the county to join DeLand in buying 128 unspoiled acres between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Beltway and Victoria Gardens. “This is not part of the Wildlife Corridor, but it probably should be.”
The County Council on Feb. 7 agreed to partner with DeLand to purchase the tract, now owned by the Volusia Groves and Cattle Co., for $4.3 million. The county will pay the lion’s share, 70 percent, or $3.01 million, and the city will pay the remaining $1.29 million. The county is using Volusia Forever funds to cover its share of the purchase price. Both parties will split the closing costs.
The property, mostly high and dry in its undeveloped state, also serves as a groundwater-recharge site.
Under the interlocal agreement ratified by the County Council and the City Commission, the land will become a conservation easement and a passive nature park.
DeLand Mayor Chris Cloudman argued for the acquisition of the property.
“There aren’t large tracts of land within the city of DeLand left at this point that we can preserve,” he said. “There is potential to also solve another request from the public, which is to give more recreational opportunities to the people who live within our community.”