On Tuesday evening, the New Smyrna Beach City Commission voted unanimously to enter into a contract to purchase 10 acres on historic Turnbull Creek from Sea Star Realty and Neal Harding for $1.2 million.
North Florida Land Trust negotiated the contract on behalf of the City and will manage the transaction through closing which is scheduled for no later than November. In April, the City hired NFLT to manage land acquisitions along Turnbull Creek, which eventually flows into Spruce Creek, the Indian River, and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean. The creek teems with wildlife like turtles, crabs, wading birds and a myriad of fish.
The property at State Road 44 and South Walker Drive was the subject of a variety of development plans that failed to come to fruition, but the commercial zoning and 967 feet of frontage on State Road 44, left it vulnerable to development. Once purchased, more than 1,600 linear feet of the creek and upland forests of oaks and pines will be secured from development.
This 10-acre property acquisition continues the progress begun by the City when it acquired the 151-acre Turnbull Trace property last June as part of the Turnbull Creek Water Quality, Wildlife Habitat, and Natural Areas protection bonds approved by 75 percent of voters in 2018. Last night, the City Commission also agreed to allow NFLT to move on to the Priority 2 parcels identified in the Turnbull Creek evaluation report, which includes another 146-acres along the creek.
The Turnbull Creek watershed is located within a complex of conservation lands including the Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Preserve, Canaveral National Seashore and Spruce Creek. The Turnbull Canal system, also known as Andrew Turnbull’s Grand Canal, is on the National Registry of Historic Places and dates back to the 1700s when New Smyrna Beach was founded by Dr. Andrew Turnbull.
NFLT partners with local, state and federal governments to provide services for conservation initiatives. They are currently working with the Suwannee River Water Management District, Nassau County and the City of Fernandina Beach. They are also in discussions with several counties and municipalities for both real estate and conservation planning services.