ZEPHYRHILLS — A Wawa convenience store would be the first of several developments as the city works to revitalize the former Hercules Park property, according to a site plan that is nearing approval.
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City staffers continue to work through the complexities of carving up the more than 15 acres at U.S. 301 and County Road 54 that held the Hercules complex, adjacent to Zephyrhills High and Woodland Elementary schools. Most of the land — which includes a drained swimming pool and bath house that Pasco County commissioners shuttered years ago amid constrained budgets — is owned by the Pasco County School District.
In April, the school district sold a portion of the property to developer Gryboski Howe & Gravley, which is bringing the Wawa to the intersection, as well as seeking a rezoning and land-use change for several acres south of the store, where a mixed-use development is planned.
The site plan for the Wawa is nearing approval, and work is continuing on transferring the remaining land, about 9 acres, from the school district to the city for a park, according to City Manager Steve Spina.
During its meeting this week, the Zephyrhills City Council got a look at a rendering of what the Hercules complex could look like. The proposal also includes a "cutout" at the U.S. 301/CR 54 intersection for possible signage celebrating the history of the Hercules Powder Co.
The rendering shows trails, a 10,000-square-foot playground, an 8,000-square-foot dog park, an events plaza, a clubhouse and rest rooms.
Discussions with the School Board over the planned transfer of the property to the city for the park have resumed following the holidays, Spina said, but a time frame on completion is uncertain.
One issue the city is currently reviewing is, in taking over the property, an ordinance change will be needed. Zephyrhills likely will be responsible for maintaining drainage for the entire 15-plus acres, which goes against city code, which does not allow for maintenance of non-city-owned property. The city staff is seeking to keep drainage interconnected on the entire site in order to preserve as much land for the park as possible, according to a city report.
Spina said the council remains receptive to bringing back a working park on the Hercules land.
"There is still interest in it, so that is a good thing," he said.
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