Alachua County Commission sets course for parks and conservation over the next decade

The county agreed to an 80/20 split of funds between conservation and parks
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 8:38 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Alachua County Commission approved two master plans for how the county will replenish its parks and conserve land over the next decade.

The county heard two plans today, the first about the development of parks in the county.

Over the next 10 years, the County will see up to 11 new parks constructed throughout the county. They classified them into two groups: neighborhood parks and community parks. The proposal included six possible sites for neighborhood parks and five possible sites for community parks.

“We do have some gaps in services we also have our existing amenities that maybe need to be brought up to par,” said one of the developers of the master plan for parks, Jason Maurer, “they’ve been kind of let go over the last few years. So we’re going to work on bringing all of the existing parks up to a better, higher standard and improving accessibility, and then equitablity so that there’s all the same amenities available across Alachua County.”

The county agreed that 80% of the founds, or more than $150 million, will go towards land conservation in the county. The other 20%, more than $37 million, will go towards upgrading current parks and building new ones.

“It’s going to address priority areas for land acquisition to protect the wildlife corridor,” said Andi Christman, who presented the plan for conservation to the board, the water resources, and opportunities for public recreational access in these wild areas within Alachua County. Additionally, it is going to look at specific needs to better support the stewardship or the land management of these county preserves.”

Most of the funding will be provided by the Wild Spaces Public Places tax.

“We are going to continue one of our primary missions with land acquisition, which is to assemble corridors between already protected lands, between state parks, between existing county preserves; because those provide the best level of protection for wildlife habitat and for water resources in the county.”

Commissioners Ken Cornell and Anna Prizzia were vocal with concerns about the massive budget presented.

However, they both voted to approve the plans because it does not require to immediately distribute the funds.

The board said their next step will be to devise short-, mid- and long-terms plans for how to use the money.

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