By Carrie Pinkard
Boaters and nature lovers in Pasco County will soon have more room to roam.
Anclote River Park is expanding by 14 acres, and officials say the extra space will also mean much needed amenities.
“We're expecting the redesign to include additional parking, maybe wider lanes, a designated entrance separate from the park entrance, walking trails, and more things of that nature,” said Rene Brown, Natural Resources Manager for Pasco County’s Parks and Recreation Department.
The expansion comes courtesy of a deal with Duke Energy.
The county gave the energy company $1.85 million and 75 acres near its Anclote Substation in exchange for full ownership of the park and an adjacent 14 acres.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said the money for the land comes from a loan the county already secured.
“The $1.85 million in cash is part of a loan that we secured when we borrowed money to build the sports complex at Wiregrass Park,” Starkey said. “We included 5 million dollars that would go toward improving boating access on the west side of the county and the $1.85 million is coming from that pot of money.”
Anclote River Park is a popular destination for boaters, but there isn't always room due to overcrowded boat ramps. The new design for the park will focus on improving capacity.
"Adding more boat ramps or at the very least a more efficient layout for the use of boat ramps will allow for greater capacity," Starkey said. "As Pasco County is entering into it's second scallop season, we know there are more boaters that want to enter the water."