Warm Mineral Springs remains closed as two local governments decide next step

8:45 PM, Nov 5, 2013   |    comments
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North Port, Florida -- The future of archaeological site Warm Mineral Springs and its future on the National Register of Historic Places remains in limbo.

Warm Mineral Springs, the largest in the world, is a constant 87 degrees and attracts visitors worldwide -- at least it used to. These days, it sits empty, closed since July 1, while two local governments try to agree on a next step.

Roger Herber runs the Warm Mineral Springs Motel. He estimates about a 35 percent drop in business the last four months. Roger has dozens of people on a waiting list to call when the springs reopen.

Roger says, "All these people, thousands of dollars of business for us."

Commissioners for the City of North Port and Sarasota County support a long-term plan, but are open to a short-term solution to reopen Warm Mineral Springs in time for the tourist season. How to execute that plan has lead to a lot of finger pointing and frustration on both sides.

"I'm sick and tired of revisionist history. I'm sick and tired of comments coming from down there, mostly not true," says Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta.

He says both sides should have moved forward on a long-term plan all commissioners agreed to last summer to permanently reopen Warm Mineral Springs.

"Every time we get near the goal line, they kick it back," says Barbetta.

Commissioner Christine Robinson says a short-term solution is still possible for North Port, but Mayor Linda Yates says resubmitting the same short-term plan out for a bid won't help.

Yates says, "That will be a three to four month process. We will be out of season in the meantime, still detrimental to the economy. It's very frustrating to watch all this go on. There's nothing stopping them from doing what they (the county) need to do to open it to the public, and done efficiently and responsibly."

Robinson adds, "We need to move forward and do what's in the best interest of the public."

Every day Warm Mineral Springs remains closed is money lost, Roger says.

North Port commissioners agreed last month to pursue a long-term plan for the springs and will hold a workshop in December.

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