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long term. They expressed the view that the National and State Park Concessions proposal simply did not provide for any significant investment by the operator, which placed too much risk on the owners. While some county commissioners at the time proposed compromises that would blend the best elements of both proposals, the North Port commissioners resisted. They wanted the National and State Park Concessions proposal in its current form. With the two commissions deadlocked, no long-term pro- posal was selected. Given the failure to select a long-term oper- ator, the possibility arose that the Springs would have to close yet again. The current short-term operating contract could not be simply extended under state bidding regu- lations. And a new bidding process would take months. Finally, in frustration, the County Commission offered to sell its share of the Springs to North Port for the amount it paid, plus the payment of all closing costs by North Port. The North Port Commission quickly accepted that offer. Regardless of the plans, however, it appears virtually impossible to conclude the transfer in time for North Port to extend the exist- ing short-term contract with National and State Park Concessions. In all likelihood, the Springs will close again, although perhaps for a shorter period than before. What started less than four years ago as an exciting prospect for Sarasota County-North Port cooperation in the preservation and development of a world-renowned natural resource was derailed only two years later by new faces on the North Port Commission and a sea change in that city's politics. The intran- sigence of the three North Port commissioners — Yates, Cook and DiFranco — ended any hope of pursuing the original plan of devel- opment, forced the closure of Warm Mineral Springs and caused the county to expend considerable resources in the back-and-forth with North Port and the various bidding pro- cesses which the county had to handle. While the upcoming municipal elections in North Port could change the balance of power so more open-minded commissioners could once again be in the majority, the County Commission decided not to take that chance. After agreeing to be an equal partner in 2010 mostly to assist North Port in the acquisition of the Springs, the county threw in the towel this month and decided to sell its interest. If the sale is properly concluded, the county will be free of this troublesome entanglement. What becomes of Warm Mineral Springs will rest entirely on the City of North Port. And the County Commission is reminded once again of the veracity of the old saying, "No good deed goes unpunished." % OPINION Sarasota News Leader July 25, 2014 Page 87

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