Neal Communities Helps the Environment: Patrick and Charlene Nature Preserve Underway

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After nearly four years of planning and environmental study, Neal Communities is now working to create the Patrick and Charlene Neal Nature Preserve on the southern tip of Perico Island.

Neal Communities Nature Preserve

I am thrilled to see this project come to life

After nearly four years of planning and environmental study, Neal Communities is now working to create the Patrick and Charlene Neal Nature Preserve on the southern tip of Perico Island. The 119-acre parcel of land was conveyed to Manatee County in 2005 at a significantly reduced price in order to preserve its pristine wetlands and create a protected preserve for the enjoyment and education of the community.

In the first phase of restoration, crews are working to remove exotic and nuisance plant species, such as Brazilian peppers and Australian pines from the area and are preparing to create a 13-acre public park. When finished, the park will feature a mix of recreational opportunities, including a bike trail, picnic pavilion, boardwalk, wildlife observation point, a launch for canoes and kayaks, on-site parking, kiosk and restrooms. The park will also offer opportunities for environmental and archeological study. Restoration is expected to complete by late 2010.

“I am thrilled to see this project come to life,” said Pat Neal, who has been highly regarded for his eco-friendly approach to land development. “Charlene and I feel very strongly about this project – it has been close to our hearts for some time and to see it become a reality is very exciting. We are happy that this extraordinary piece of land will be protected and enjoyed by our community for generations to come.”

Pat Neal, president of Neal Communities, and his wife Charlene decided to preserve the natural beauty of this unique property for the benefit of the community instead of pursuing development options. The land had been appraised at $15.9 million. The county purchased the land for $6.7 million and applied an additional $2.3 million in grant monies from the Florida Communities Trust Program. The Neal family then completed the transaction by gifting $6.9 million of the land’s value to the county.
The Neal Preserve is home to 106 acres of unspoiled Mangrove wetlands that support a rich and varied ecosystem. The remaining 13 acres is comprised of beautiful uplands dotted with native plants, trees and wildlife. In addition to its environmental treasures, the land is also the repository of significant archeological records and is part of an ongoing study of native tribes who occupied the area as early as 1000 BC.

As the company celebrates its 40th year, Neal Communities has reinforced its reputation as Southwest Florida’s largest and most established, locally owned and operated, private builder. Neal Communities’ unwavering commitment to responsible land development, natural habitat preservation, innovative home building, and unsurpassed customer service has been a benchmark of the company’s success. Forty-one Aurora Awards, twenty-six 2008 Parade of Homes Awards, five Best in American Living Awards and hundreds of local and regional industry awards attest to a reputation that is without equal.

Pictured L to R: Keith Bettcher, administrator for the Manatee County Conservation Lands Management Department, Commissioner Ron Getman, Pat Neal, Charlene Neal, Commissioner Donna Hayes, Commissioner Gwen Brown, Commissioner Carol Whitmore, Commissioner John Chappie.

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Leisa Weintraub