The mermaids at historic Weeki Wachee Springs are again at risk of extinction if they lose the battle over their lease with a state agency.
The Weeki Wachee, Fla., attraction, famous for its underwater mermaid show, is disputing its lease with the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The attraction also features Buccaneer Bay, a spring-fed waterpark.
The state?s management district, which owns the land, wants to ensure that the spring stays environmentally sound and the park is run properly, said agency spokesman Michael Molligan.
Weeki Wachee officials say the state wants to shut the park down for good and is looking for an excuse to do so.
The park also was at risk for closure when the agency took over the lease in 1999 and threatened to close the facility if repairs weren?t made to buildings and the aging sewer system.
In 2003, the city of Weeki Wachee took over the park lease and began campaigning to ?Save Our Tails.? The campaign made headlines around the country, bringing in donations and contributions from companies to restore the attraction.
Today, the two parties are battling over wording of the lease, alleged unauthorized dredging of the spring, and whether the city is allowed to own a private entity. The court will resolve the dispute this summer.
Weeki Wachee, which opened in 1947, drew as many as 1 million visitors in its heyday before Walt Disney World opened an hour away in Orlando in 1971, taking the crowds and revenues.