Courtesy Neal Land Ventures

This week, Bradenton, Fla., officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new park dedicated and named for local developers John and Rebecca Neal.

The new park is located on a previously a blighted parcel with dilapidated old homes on it. In 2011, a bank planned to sell several old homes on the land in foreclosure. Fearing the worst for the property, city officials asked the Neals to quickly intervene and purchase the property for future better use. One year later, John and Rebecca Neal sold the parcel to the city for their cost, with a donation value of over $1 million.

“We can’t thank John and Rebecca Neal enough for saving this land and allowing us to transform it for the community,” says Patrick Roff, councilman for the City of Bradenton. “This has been a true labor of love.”

Now a beautiful passive recreation area, the John and Rebecca Neal Park is a welcoming waterfront parcel of open space with a kayak launch, future fishing pier and a community garden. Only one of the seven land parcels, the largest, sold to the city will be home to the new park. The other parcels will most likely be used for future housing.

“I commend the city for what they’ve done here,” says John Neal, president of Neal Land Ventures and son of Neal Communities chairman Pat Neal. “In my opinion, the best way to improve blighted areas of our county is to re-envision the amenities that brought people here to live and settle in the area in the first place.”