ORLANDO, Fla. — Osceola County leaders are trying to make a move and finally build an extension of the Osceola Parkway through Split Oak Forest.
Documents obtained by Spectrum News 13 Friday include an internal memo from the Orange County Environmental Protection Division that shows Osceola County contacted Orange County in December to let them know that Osceola leaders will propose to enter an agreement with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to manage the land comprising Split Oak Forest within Orange and Osceola counties.
The move follows a November vote by Orange County leaders to rescinded support for the plan to build the toll road through the forest.
Osceola county leaders say they want to extend the Osceola Parkway to help residents who commute to work in Orange County and enter an agreement with FWC to manage all 1,550 acres of Split Oak Forest between Orange and Osceola counties.
Orange County commissioner Nicole Wilson said she is not in favor of that idea.
“Orange County and Osceola County entered in to an agreement to split Split Oak Forest years ago, and that is still on the paper,” she said. “Until the bulldozers roll in, or a judge tells me we are no longer partners in this agreement, then I think it is just posturing.”
Osceola County commissioner Ricky Booth said the Osceola Parkway extension has been planned for decades, and is part of a regional beltway that will provide efficient movement for commuters, delivery of goods, and services throughout the region.
In a statement, Booth said that county leaders plan to move ahead with the project on Split Oak Forest land within Osceola County.
“Project planners understood the importance of minimizing impacts to conservation lands, as well as surrounding residential development, and leaders have approved an alignment that will have no impact to Split Oak in Orange County and 60 acres of direct impact in Osceola County while saving dozens of homes.”
The FWC doesn’t meet again until February, and the Split Oak Forest item is not currently on the agenda. Orange County leaders say the plan to have a work session on the topic in early February.