SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Residents in the Gulf Gate Estates community are working to protect a 49-acre piece of property that used to be a golf course years ago. The property has sat empty since then and is currently owned by a developer.

Plans in the past to redevelop the property into more homes never moved forward. People who live in the surrounding community hope to see it stay that way, for the sake of the environment.

“Over the years, the county did not implement enhanced stormwater infrastructure, so now we have a situation with climate change and increase rainfall events where we are downstream. It is not just Gulf Gate; it is all of the communities in these watersheds,” said resident Cass Smith.

What they’re asking for is for Sarasota County to purchase the land.

“There is one green space. This 49-acre golf course which is the largest property available west of Beneva, so we are hoping that the commissioners see that this is an important area to preserve, and then develop it as a stormwater management area,” said Smith.

Commissioner Joseph Neunder visited the area recently and saw value in the possibility of the county acquiring the green space.

“We are at a very critical time point where we have the opportunity of acquiring 49 acres of green space to do stormwater mitigation for the health, safety, and well-being of our bay system in addition to getting some open space for all the residents of Sarasota County out there,” said Commissioner Neunder. “We are very excited, very humbled to be a part of this particular process. I think it would be a huge win for all the residents of Sarasota County.”

The commissioner brought the issue forward during Tuesday’s commission meeting in Venice. After brief comments from others, commissioners voted 5-0 to in support of requesting staff to present the feasibility of the Gulf Gate property at an upcoming meeting.

“Sarasota has an opportunity right now to choose the planet and the people over profit and it is a very simple thing, the money. The value of the property will increase just because of where it is located and right now, the county can get it and we can end this and just do the right thing,” said Gulf Gate resident Lisa Rott.