Hillsborough County officials are negotiating with property owners to buy a 70 acre site of land east of Interstate 75 on Morris Bridge Road that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers attempted to use as their Training Facility.

But environmental advocates - who were successful in having County Commissioner rebuff an attempt by the Bucs to use the property, now say they need to lobby the County again, to ensure that the park is used for recreation purposes.

Joe Murphy is the Co-Conservation Chair for the Tampa Bay Sierra Club says he thinks it's a good thing that the County will purchase the property. But he doesn't like the fact that the property will be purchased by the County's Real Estate Department, not it's Environmental Lands Protection Program, also known as the ELAPP program

(roll tape#1 o.q."ecological value")

The deal is in the same range as the reported $3.5 million asking price in 2002, when the Bucs were pursuing the site as a replacement for their old and cramped training facility,

County commissioners, worried about traffic and potential environmental damage, , refused to rezone the, and the Bucs went elsewhere. But Gina Miller, with the Hillsborough River Greenways Task Force, says that using the property for recreation use by the general public, could be worse than the Bucs using it (roll tape#2 o.q.certain times of the year")

And Miller says that kids would use the facility after school and in the evening, which would mean using lights on the property, which she says would be bad for the environment there (roll tape#3 o.q.'keeping with green space")

The Sierra Club's Joe Murphy lays out what his organization would like the County to do with the property (roll tape#4 oq.."for habitat")

Stan Motley, the county's director of parks, recreation and conservation, said the property's future rests in the hands of county residents.

He told today's Tampa Tribune that a meeting being planned to solicit comments on what features the park should offer...

There is no working name for the park, , the county would have to fund the start-up costs. Motley did not return WMNF's Phone calls by airtime

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