Cone Ranch being poached
October 31, 2009
Cone Ranch is a unique and extremely valuable asset belonging to the taxpayers of Hillsborough County. But it is threatened by a deal to allow the Florida Conservation and Environmental Group (FCEG) to sell it off at the very bottom of the real estate market.
The Cone Ranch Advisory Council that was created to decide the fate of Cone Ranch has been hijacked by special interests.
FCEG pitched its deal to the advisory panel at the June 29 meeting and again on Aug. 14. On Aug. 28, FCEG front man Ken Jones appeared before the panel to answer questions at length. The Nature Conservancy also addressed the panel at the Aug. 14 meeting, supporting the FCEG deal.
After three formal presentations supporting the Cone Ranch deal, panel chair Heidi McCree wants to put FCEG on the agenda yet again!
Hillsborough's environmental lands program has ranked Cone Ranch as its highest priority for acquisition, but thus far, not a single presentation by them has been made, and none is planned. The panel heard a brief description of the ranking system, but no time has been given for them to make their case for continued public ownership of Cone Ranch through the program.
Wake up, Hillsborough! You are about to sell off tens of millions of dollars of real estate at the worst possible time.
Why? While the citizens of Hillsborough County might assume that the sale of Cone Ranch would help ease the current budget crisis, this is not so. Not one penny from this sale will go into the general fund.
The sale of Cone Ranch will not hire a single teacher, buy a single police car or fix a single pothole. Every penny will go into a special, restricted capital account within the water enterprise.
Millions of dollars and thousands of acres of public land are being snatched away.
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