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Twin Oaks closed due to developer’s error

Posted on Friday, January 26, 2018 at 11:22 am

Editor’s note: This story was first posted on Friday, Hune 5, 2015. Subscribe to the News-Gazette archives at :https://circulation.lakewaypublishers.com/ncs/uss2eefllogin.cshtml?Dir=ong&Subscription=4

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
Twin Oaks Conservation Area, an Osceola County-run preservation area and park, is closed until further notice after a sub-contractor working a neighboring tract of land accidently tilled soil along hiking and horse trails and destroyed native flora planted on sensitive wetlands.
The park on Macy Island Road will re-open once repairs are made, but county officials have no timetable for that.
The damage “isn’t necessarily on the trails or near the lake, but if we let people in, they could wander over there and get hurt,” county spokesperson Mark Pino said. “I know there are people eager for us to open it back up, but if we opened it, what would it take to keep people safe? We’re still assessing that.”
The damage is on “more than 100 acres” of the 399-acre facility, he said.
When county officials originally thought the damage was the work of vandals late last week, a report was made to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and the park was closed, mostly to preserve the damage in case criminal activity led to it. But earlier this week a sub-contractor working a sizeable neighboring land tract for a D.R. Horton development, Bio-Tech Consulting, took responsibility.
Bob Mindick, the county’s Public Lands Manager, reported the damage, at a value of about $300,000 based on planning and planting, to deputies around 3:30 p.m. on May 29. In the deputies’ report, he stated he alerted the developer when the damage was first discovered earlier in the day, but that the tilling of the parkland continued after the developer had been contacted to cease. Deputies observed pine trees, palms and grasses that had been plowed and the machinery used to do it.
“Since it was lands paid for with public funds, we had to take care of it,” Mindick said Monday.
According to county officials, the contractor mistook property boundaries due to a miscommunication. The plowing operation created uneven and loose soil that could be hazardous to park visitors and their horses that venture into the area.
The problem has been corrected and Bio-Tech Consulting has promised full restitution. The Sheriff’s Office has labeled the complaint as a civil matter.
Twin Oaks, on the eastern banks of Lake Tohopekaliga, opened in October 2013. Named after two large century-old live oaks that guided boaters in and around Goblets Cove over the years, the property includes trails, primitive camping sites, an wheelchair accessible canoe and kayak launch, fishing pier and a wildlife observation deck.
The park will re-open once an investigation is complete, county officials said. For further information, contact the county at 407-742-0200.