Dunedin closed on the $10 million dollar purchase of the Gladys Douglas property on May 13th. Pinellas Chapter members Commissioner Deborah Kynes and Commissioner Jeff Gow participated in the the official signing ceremony on the property, along with City Manager Jennifer Bramley, Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski and other members of the City Commission. Pinellas FNPS members Jane Graham and Rebecca Wellborn were among the invited guests at the signing event.
The land was under contract for housing development to Pulte Builders less than a year ago. Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel called the finalization of the $10 million purchase the most miraculous synergy between public officials and community activism she had seen in her 25 years in elected office.
The preservation effort began in August 2020, with just one local citizen waving a sign and soon others joined in the protest and lobbied local and county officials to purchase the land. After Pulte pulled out of the contract, the city and county pledged $5.5 million to purchase the property and a public fundraising campaign was launched, including a live-streamed concert and silent auction sponsored by the Pinellas Chapter Florida Native Plant Society and other local organizations. Thanks to several large private donations the $10 million dollar goal was reached and the purchase was realized.
The property will be managed by the City of Dunedin with the most sensitive areas, including the Rosemary Bald, managed by Pinellas County. The Pinellas Community Foundation Fund to Preserve the Gladys Douglas Property, which raised $4.5 million in public donations to the purchase, negotiated use restrictions and land management guidelines to insure that the property is protected as it is developed for public use. Pinellas Chapter Conservation Chair Jane Graham and President Michael Coleman, both attorneys, helped draft the language and negotiate that contract on behalf of the foundation.
Immediately following the fundraiser, Pinellas Chapter FNPS submitted a conservation grant application to FNPS to fund a year-long field based floristic survey and inventory of the entire property, with emphasis on the scrub and rosemary bald. Invasive exotics will also be documented. GPS (Global Positioning System) will assist with locating plant populations and developing detailed ecosystem mapping. The grant was awarded at the May 22nd FNPS Annual meeting and work will begin this summer. More details on this project to follow.