Citrus Co. Commission rejects Pirates Cove plan
Image via Citrus County government

ozello park
Board members suggested instead seeking state funds to buy the Ozello property.

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.”

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.


  • Sylvia Boswell Doty

    December 1, 2021 at 2:34 pm

    I personally disagree with the plan to buy Pirates Cove ! My dislikes of the idea is that it seems most all of the newer people to our great little county want to change every bit of it.. I am a Florida Cracker from way back in the early 1800’s.. My ancestors fought indians, fought in the American Revolution, and centralized in Florida.. I am also from the Boswell family who were instrumental in making this County what it is.. Every time I turn around, there is someone wishing to change a part of Citrus County.. It is beautiful for it’s natural beauty.. Why change it to steel, concrete and noise.. Leave it alone and it isn’t hurting anyone except maybe someone who wants to turn it into another tourist trap.. It’s been there 30 + years, why can’t you just leave it alone ?

    • Henry

      December 5, 2021 at 9:55 pm

      They would buy it so it doesn’t get developed. It’s 7 lots & 2 portions commercial, originally 14 home sites and 2 business’s.

  • W.Relue

    December 2, 2021 at 8:07 pm

    Wake up commission! Fix and take of what we have now.

    • W.Relue

      December 2, 2021 at 8:11 pm

      take care of what we have now. sorry keys sticken

  • Betty Withers

    December 5, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    I think it will probably sell before the county is able to raise funds. It’s on the market and an unbelievably beautiful property with direct gulf access. They just don’t have land like this available anymore. I remember the previous owner was under contract for well over a million back in 2016 or 2017. I think it didn’t go thru with the owners health issues.

Comments are closed.


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