New uses for Camp McConnell being discussed

Gainesville, FL. (WCJB) -- Camp McConnell is officially off the market as both buyers who initially expressed interest in the property fell through. We'll show you how county officials plan to adjust how the camp is used.

TV20's Landon Harrar reported, "rain rain go away but Camp McConnell is most likely here to stay, and county officials are asking for your suggestions to decide what type of activities should be available to the public year-round."

County officials want the property to end up more like a park than a traditional camp.

County Commissioner for District 2 Mari Helen Wheeler said, "there are not many places, big open spaces like this anymore that we can fly a kite or come out in the afternoon with your kids and set up a picnic."

Alachua County's Chief of Staff Gina Peebles added, "we're hoping that today the input we receive will help prioritize what things must be done versus what things can kind of be held off for a while based on the priorities of what the citizens want to do here at the facility."

Many of the property's structures do need renovations. There are 2.7 million dollars of wild spaces public places money available for those renovations but Peebles said they can be done a few at a time.
"We have some health safety issues those things need to be taken care of we have some ADA concerns so that is in the neighborhood of about 500-thousand dollars. Then from there we can try and prioritize, yes this building is important and we're willing to invest that in it or it's not worth the return on investment so let's go ahead and demo it."

County officials held two public meetings to learn how the community wants the space to be used but came to the table with a few ideas of their own.

Wheeler brainstormed, "you could have concerts out here, you could have revivals and weddings and family reunions here. The sheriff has talked about doing training out here, we have corporate groups who would like to come out and use this lodge for a day out in the woods."

The costs to use or rent the property have not yet been decided but officials say they won't be to make a profit instead to offset the cost of upkeep.