- Special Sections
- Public Notices
CRYSTAL RIVER — The Crystal River City Council voted unanimously Monday to make a few alterations to the guidebook for the development of the Three Sisters Springs property.
Now the management plan goes before the Florida Communities Trust (FCT), a major benefactor in the purchase of the 57-acre urban parcel on the cusp of canals leading into King’s Bay.
The city of Crystal River and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) co-own the property and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) manages it.
The changes proposed by the city have been topics of contentious discussion. Some neighboring property owners have been critical of plans to build a kayak landing in an area said to be highly congested already, as well as of plans to construct manatee-viewing platforms in an area called Gator Hole (aka Magnolia Springs), where USFWS says optimal opportunities exist for seeing manatees. Homeowners objected to the notion of throngs of people peering into their backyards.
Critics were also upset that USFWS built a boardwalk around the springs against the dictates of the management. U.S. Fish and Wildlife again said the boardwalk was the best way to accommodate large numbers of people around the springs for viewing of manatees without causing damage to the banks.
In a compromise proposal, City Manager Andy Houston unveiled the
*The final design of the wetland treatment area to be constructed by SWFWMD is reflected in the revised site plan.
* The boardwalk previously installed adjacent to the springs is incorporated within the plan in lieu of two observation platforms originally envisioned for that location.
* A nature discovery area is proposed in lieu of the kayak/canoe landing previously planned for the site.
* Two manatee viewing stations are proposed for the shoreline adjacent to Magnolia Springs in lieu of the basking areas originally envisioned for the western side of the site. It is anticipated that the stations will be constructed in such a manner as to somewhat limit the field of vision in an effort to provide an element of privacy for residents across the canal.
* The proposed changes reflect a proposal to address shoreline erosion within the springs basin.
* The proposed changes incorporate the option of the education center and related parking to be located off-site (across Cutler Spur Boulevard) in the event that USFWS is able to secure sufficient funding to accomplish that.
* The proposed changes include the elimination of the requirement for the USFWS to secure city/county permits in accordance with federal exemption of such permitting requirements.
“I am still concerned about not having the kayak launch area, because what happens when the congestion in that area gets really bad. Can we come back later and fix that?” Councilwoman Paula Wheeler asked.
Houston said future tweaks are possible with the management plan.
In other action Monday, the council voted to:
* Approve a 60-day extension to the current lease with the Academy of Environmental Sciences (AES) for property at 12695 W. Fort Island Trail, authorizing the city manager to issue a letter to the Florida Communities Trust (FCT) office committing the city to construct a boardwalk on that property.
* Not to appeal the rejection by Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) of a petition regarding the cooperative agreement FWC has with USFWS. The city had joined forces with the county and a citizens group opposed to the recently adopted rules designating King’s Bay as a manatee protection refuge on a petition effort trying to change elements of the FWC compact with USFWS. Michael J. Brannigan, whose firm represents the city, recommended foregoing an appeal.
* Renew its contract with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services at $1,089,158
Chronicle reporter A.B. Sidibe can be reached at 352-564-2925 or email@example.com.