Pat and Charlene Neal, together with Manatee County officials, unveiled the Neal Nature Preserve on April 9, 2014, a 120-acre parcel of land originally conveyed to Manatee County in 2005.
The Neal’s donated the land to the county 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.
The park features 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 also offers opportunities for environmental and archeological study.
“Charlene and I are thrilled that years of planning are finally coming to fruition,” said Pat Neal, president and CEO of Lakewood Ranch based Neal Communities. “We pride ourselves on being stewards of the land and hold high standards in our environmental commitment. We believe in protecting the land by leaving a ‘small footprint’, and we take that very seriously. We are proud and humbled that the Neal Preserve can maintain that legacy in some small way for years to come,” he said.
In 2005, the Neal’s decided to preserve the natural beauty of this unique property for the benefit of the community in lieu 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 piece of property is located just before the Anna Maria Island Bridge, on the southern tip of Perico Island.
The Neal Preserve is home to 106 acres of unspoiled Mangrove wetlands that support a rich and varied ecosystem. The remaining acreage is comprised of beautiful uplands dotted with native plants, trees and wildlife. 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. That history is honored with interpretive signage throughout the Preserve.
Neal Communities was named one of 2012’s “America’s Best Builders” by BUILDER Magazine and voted the “2013 Best Residential Builder in Southwest Florida” in a readers’ poll sponsored by Gulfshore Business Magazine. Neal Communities was also named 2014 “Best Builder” in the Best of Venice, awarded by the Venice Gondolier, and was a finalist in the Sarasota Herald Tribune’s 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards for “Best Builder”. The company is ranked #1 locally by Metrostudy and by Hanley Wood Market Intelligence based on number of home sales and ranked #64 nationally among homebuilders by BUILDER Magazine. To date, Neal has built over 9,000 homes in Southwest Florida. As the area’s largest and most established, locally owned and operated private builder, Neal Communities is continually striving for excellence in every aspect of the home building and development business. John Neal Homes, Neal Signature Homes, Charlene Neal PureStyle, Waterscapes Pools & Spas, and Allegiant Title Professionals all contribute to the firm’s continued, record-setting local success. The company’s honors and accolades include 49 Parade of Homes 2014 awards, 49 Aurora Awards, 5 Best in American Living Awards, and hundreds of local and regional industry awards. For more information, please visit www.nealcommunities.com.