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Tussle Heats Up Over Warm Mineral Springs

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By Valerie Alker, WGCU News

North Port and Sarasota County Commissioners will meet to discuss Warm Mineral Springs' future on April 17th

In its heyday, Warm Mineral Springs, located right off U.S. 41, was a top tourist spot. Then in the 1960s, Interstate 75 was built and the springs, for the most part, became just another failing roadside attraction.

Several years ago, the site was taken over by Cypress Lending, which spent $500,000 sprucing it up. In 2010 it sold to the City of North Port and Sarasota County. Cypress Lending’s Gene Vaccaro said its future is bright.

“It’s like the Phoenix, it keeps coming back this time for good,” he said. “We’ve seen business triple over the past four years, the world is just now discovering Warm Mineral Springs.”

But, Vaccaro’s enthusiasm is tempered by a conflict between the city and the county.

When they bought the springs and adjoining property the intent was to protect them since they are considered to be both a significant archeological and environmental site. Promoting development around the springs that would boost tourism was also part of the plan. But in 2012 North Port’s city council changed and a majority of the new leadership wants out of the deal. Mayor Mary Yates said the city should not be involved in the commercial development business.

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