TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida Governor Jeb Bush's cabinet approved
plans to purchase a perpetual conservation easement for Cypress
Gardens, the 67-year-old theme park that closed last April for
The purchase will be made through the $3 billion Florida Forever
program initiated in 1999 to conserve environmentally sensitive
land and preserve cultural and historical resources. The plan was
recommended by the state's Acquisition and Restoration Council.
Two prospective purchasers are considering the 174-acre
property, according to a spokeswoman from the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection. One is the owner of the Wild Adventures
theme park in Valdosta, Ga., who wants to make it an amusement
park, with some new attractions that will appeal to young
The other interested party is a time-share mogul who is
proposing operating Cypress Gardens as a theme park but with the
addition of several museums, including a sports hall of fame and a
collection of Royal Doulton dolls.
In either case the state will purchase an easement that will
prohibit development of land designated for conservation.
The property is under an option until Sept. 24 held by the Trust
for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to
preserve public ownership of historical and cultural resources.
According to a spokeswoman, the TPL stepped in when it
discovered the owner of the property planned to sell it for
commercial and residential development. The TPL's plan is to secure
ownership of the land and then sell it to an appropriate buyer who
will maintain the integrity of the environmental, historical and
To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].