Once scheduled for hundreds of homes, Osceola County has instead chosen to purchase a plot of pastureland, with an eye on conservation, active and passive recreation.

The $4.3 million purchase of approximately 174 acres was approved earlier this month. The land is east and southeast of Brownie Wise Park, between Aultman Road, Neptune Road and Kings Highway.

It’s major function now is to store water before it enters Lake Tohopekaliga. In the future, passive recreation similar to uses at Brownie Wise, Makinson Island, Twin Oaks Conservation Area, Scotty’s Cove and Cherokee Point – all of which play an important conservation role in the health of the County’s lakes, wetlands and uplands – will all be available once the County closes on the property as it expects later this summer

“This project is very much in line with our Kings Highway Community Coalition’s vision of “a safe, family-friendly community which embraces the rich diversity of flora, fauna and waterways, and maintains its connection to historic Osceola County,” said Joy Simpson, of the Coalition. “It is a great gift to the community.”

The Kings Highway Community Coalition seeks to work to establish design standards which embrace future growth, while maintaining and improving the lifestyle and property values of current and future residents, like the Kindred development rising from the ground just to the east of Kings Highway.

Eventually, the property could include walking and biking trails, as well as areas to observe indigenous species such as bald eagles, ospreys, snail kites, sandhill cranes, egrets, herons, limpkins and more, county officials said.

A community center where residents of Kings Highway neighborhoods might gather could also be developed for the property, said County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb, whose District 4 includes the conservation lands.

“This is a legacy acquisition that is win for surrounding communities, for our county, for our lakes and for the overall environment,” said Grieb. “Conservation efforts often happen one piece at a time over a number of years and this purchase fits that pattern. I’m proud of the properties the County has acquired and the vision we have ensuring that our residents have the resources to preserve an outstanding quality of life – both now and in the future. I’m looking forward to the community’s involvement and input as we plan for the best uses for this property.”