At yesterday’s Special Meeting (February 7, 2023), the Alachua County Commission approved two transformational 10-year plans: the ALACHUA COUNTY FOREVER Land Conservation and Management Program 10-Year Plan and the Alachua County Parks and Open Space Master Plan. The voter-approved Wild Spaces Public Places Surtax (WSPP) ½ penny will provide a projected $188 million for these efforts over the next ten years. The Commission decided on an 80%/20% split over the ten years, with Conservation Lands receiving $151 million and Parks and Open Spaces receiving $38 million.
“All of us on the County Commission are so grateful that the voters approved the Infrastructure Surtax last November,” Commissioner Ken Cornell, the maker of the motion to approve the plans, commented. “The unanimous approval of this motion is a win for our environment, for our children, and for the health and well-being of all of our residents.”
The Commission unanimously approved the following:
- Approve the implementation of the 10-year Land Conservation and Management Plan and strategies as presented. (view presentation pdf)
- Authorize funding, planning, and construction of the combined field support and office facility for the Land Conservation Program using WSPP surtax funds to the extent permissible.
- Utilize an 80% Conservation and 20% Recreation split of WSPP infrastructure surtax proceeds to be dedicated to conservation lands and active parks for the 10-year surtax beginning January 1, 2023, and ending December 31, 2032.
- Allow staff to utilize the surtax for startup operations and maintenance costs and ask staff to bring back recommendations during the budget process that includes a cap, a transition to General Fund, and a yearly report process recommendation for the Board to consider.
- Adopt the Alachua County Parks & Open Space Master (view presentation pdf) plan as a visioning document and ask staff to return in approximately 90 to 120 days to add the following: a. An overlay of the County’s Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan to identify short and midterm opportunities for trail and walkway connectivity. b. Add an equity lens as defined in our Comprehensive Plan and identify short and midterm opportunities to enhance this visioning document. c. Identify existing lands owned by the County that could be utilized in the short term to leverage the implementation of this plan; and work with the Conservation and Management Program to identify future acquisition sites that could be utilized for both Parks & Open Space and Land Conservation 10-year master plans. d. Provide an overlay of municipal parks and County conservation lands and open space available to the public and bring back recommendations for the visioning document.
For more information, contact Alachua County Communications Director Mark Sexton at 352-264-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org