Here’s an idea.
With Sarasota County and the city of North Port squabbling over Warm Mineral Springs, planners and public officials should be required to have at least one meeting neck-deep in 87-degree water.
They just might relax and get things done.
That was one of the suggestions I picked up on a steamy Saturday morning out at the resort. Most of the bathers I talked to just want the place to be left alone.
They say Warm Mineral Springs looks better than it has in years. Even in summer, it draws a couple of hundred people a day. Why mess with success?
“This is a light day,” said Cleo Singer, an Oklahoma retiree sipping coconut water in the shade. “In the winter, and when they bring in tour buses, every seat is taken.”
The latest news from the city commission is a July 1 deadline for the county to either take over the park or grant a one-year contract to the current vendor.
Some bathers fear the worst.
“I’m here with some friends from Sarasota,” said Barbra-renee Brighenti of North Port. “They wanted to get down here before it closes.”
Warm Mineral Springs is also an archaeological site — “Prehistoric Man Lived Here,” says a historical marker out front — which is part of the reason why three North Port commissioners want to preserve it as a park.
Two city commissioners, along with all five county commissioners, argue that the spring can be protected while part of 81-acre site goes to a developer with more ambitious plans.
Quirky and retro
The word “development” does not sound good to Arthur Kastler and Marina Karides, a couple from Miami Beach who have been visiting Warm Mineral Springs for years.
They like it just way it is — quirky and retro.
“It reminds me of a European spa from the ’60s in a James Bond movie,” Karides says, laughing.
“And the Polish soul food in the cafe,” Kastler added. “I love it.”
The Miami couple is part of a youth movement at the springs. Most of the bathers are retirees, but a growing number are middle-aged parents with kids.
Their 11-year-old son, Pano Kastler-Karides, enjoys swimming across and around the spring.
“It’s bigger than a pool,” he said. “And the water doesn’t hurt your eyes.”
Cleo Springer and his wife, Dolores, visit Warm Mineral Springs once or twice a week. They wade, swim and take all kinds of classes.
Sometimes they do yoga during the middle of the day.
“It’s hot yoga all right,” Cleo jokes. “You’re going to lose some weight.”
Together, he and his wife have lost more than 100 pounds. They believe minerals in the water make them feel better, too.
At Warm Mineral Springs, they buy 10-day passes that drop the entrance fee from $20 to about $12. They want to get their money’s worth.
“When we come here, we’ve got the mindset that we’re going to spend the day and get all the exercise we can,” Cleo said. We’ll come in at 9 in the morning and leave at 2 or 3 in the afternoon.”
If the city and county commissioners time it right for a visit, they can show up at the spa just as the Springers are leaving.