Citrus County Commissioner Jeff Kinnard had a plan, a path to get there and several Ozello residents on his side.
What he didn’t have was enough votes.
Citrus County Commissioners on Tuesday voted 3-2 against Kinnard’s plan to combine financial resources to buy a 3.6-acre piece of property at the tip of Ozello known as Pirates Cove.
Commissioners Scott Carnahan and Ruthie Davis Schlabach said the county should first attempt to get state funding for the property, valued at about $650,000.
Carnahan, who grew up near Ozello, previously said the property was worthless for any significant development.
“We’re not in a hurry,” Carnahan said. “It’s not going anywhere.”
Pirates Cove was a hotel and restaurant before being destroyed in the March 1993 “no-name” storm. It sits at the end of a scenic 9-mile road on the St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve, adjacent to the Citrus County Ozello Community Park and boat ramp.
Various attempts to develop it as a condominium resort were met with fierce resistance from local residents. Citrus County commissioners voted once against a proposed project and other plans never made it to a formal vote.
Kinnard received backing in October, on a similar 3-2 vote, to seek appraisals and make an offer on the property. The county did, but the offer was rejected.
He then suggested Tuesday using a combination of impact fees, tourist tax dollars and a special projects fund, plus private donations funneled through a nonprofit, to raise money for the property.
The total out of pocket from the county would not exceed $375,000, Kinnard said, with all but $85,000 of it sitting in funds dedicated to park expansion and tourism.
Ozello residents pleaded with commissioners for support for the park.
“We see it every day,” Barry Schwartz said. “We see what a treasure it is.”
Commissioner Holly Davis, who said she has “danced with dolphins” in the waters off Ozello, was on board with Kinnard.
“This is a place unlike any other,” she said. “It is flippin’ amazing.”
Kinnard said Wednesday he isn’t giving up.
“I still think there’s an opportunity,” he said. “We will get it done.”