Citrus County: We’ll ask, but not commit, to buying park land
Image via Citrus County government

ozello park
'All I’m asking is to negotiate a price.'

Citrus County will seek to negotiate a purchase price for a 3-acre parcel in Ozello known as Pirates Cove, though any deal would require funds from an outside source.

Following at times contentious debate, the board voted 3-2 Tuesday to ask George Decker’s heirs how much they want to sell the property to the county.

Commissioner Jeff Kinnard, who proposed the idea, promised that any purchase would not come from the county’s general fund.

County appraisals set the value at about $650,000. Kinnard said the county has about $200,000 in available park impact fees, and he anticipated seeking a state grant for the remainder.

Pirates Cove was a popular restaurant at the tip of Ozello on Citrus County’s coast until the March 1993 “no-name” storm destroyed it. Decker, of Blaine, Tennessee, bought the property in 2004 for $464,000; it’s now taxed at a value of $252,000.

It sits on the St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve, next to the Citrus County Ozello Community Park and boat ramp.

Decker tried twice to transform the dilapidated property into a condominium resort. County commissioners denied the first try, citing incompatibility with the area and additional traffic concerns on the 9-mile road known for its narrow, sharp turns. Decker’s second attempt never progressed to a board vote.

During Tuesday’s debate, Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. and Chairman Scott Carnahan both said the property was worthless.

Carnahan, who grew up near Ozello on “Carnahan Island” on the Salt River, said the county has other pressing issues without looking to buy land.

Kitchen pushed Kinnard to say where the money would come from for the purchase, particularly if the county cannot secure state grants or legislative funding.

“This Commission continues to spend money without identifying the source,” he said.

Kitchen and Carnahan also said it’s more than just the purchase price — there’s clearing and upkeep.

Kinnard said those arguments were “throwing mud on the wall” to complicate the issue. 

“All I’m asking is to negotiate a price,” he said. “That doesn’t cost a dime.”

Mike Wright

Mike Wright is a former reporter with the Citrus County Chronicle, where he had covered county government and politics since 1987. Mike's skills as an investigative reporter earned him first-place awards in investigative writing. Mike also helped the Chronicle win the Frances Devore Award for Public Service in 2002.


  • Larry Gillis, Libertarian (Cape Coral)

    October 27, 2021 at 1:59 pm


    The platform of the Libertarian Party of Florida says (Part X, Section 2):

    2. State Land Privatization
    Aside from public safety, there is no greater concern for the people of Florida than having a safe, healthy environment. We look forward to the day when all property not required for police and
    court functions are returned to private ownership and control. Privatization of all public land not critical to government operations, may deed lock its future use for conservation or

    We oppose the creation of new government parks or wilderness and recreation areas. Such parks and areas that already exist should be transferred to non-government ownership. Pending such
    transfer, their operating costs should be borne by their users rather than by taxpayers.

  • G

    October 27, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    The tax value is misquoted in this article; it’s 7 parcels total.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn