Tommy Hines, Newberry City Commissioner and vice chair of the Alachua
County/Municipal Leaders Steering Committee, told the High Springs City
Commission during a presentation on Thursday night, "I'll be honest, you're the
only commission we've been worried about going along with it."
Hines referred to the plan set forth by the steering committee that has been
meeting for over a year to form a coordinated effort between the ten pieces of
the puzzle that make up Alachua County: the county itself and its nine
municipalities. This visioning and planning process would combine resources and
give each community a vehicle for making decisions that will impact future
The committee has come up with a design for improving and simplifying the
annexation process and bringing together the ideas of all the municipalities for
a shared vision within the county. But success of the process depends on
participation of all pieces of that puzzle.
"We're the first county in the state to do this," Hines pointed out after a
presentation that showed the rapid development within the Alachua County over
the last twenty years.
This visioning process pools resources and allows everyone to have a say in the
way that the county grows. "We get to tell the county what we want for the first
time," noted Hines.
Hines informed the commission that the cost would amount to $1 per resident in
either in-kind contributions or cash or both. Alachua County, Waldo, Newberry,
and Micanopy have already signed a resolution of support. Gainesville has not
signed the resolution, but Hines said that they were certain to do so soon. The
cost to High Springs would be approximately $3,900 to take advantage of becoming
a part of a process that will help communities manage the rapid growth taking
place in the county.
Commissioner John Hill questioned the amount of total money needed. Hines and
Commissioner Jim Gabriel, who is also chair of the steering committee, told Hill
several times that they were considering several possibilities on how to proceed
but they were hoping that the total cost would be somewhere near $250,000.
"I do not like to commit money when we don't know where it's going. You're the
same in Newberry," Hill told Hines.
"Yes, but we're also concerned about the amount of annexation," Hines responded.
"You have the greatest opportunity tonight to meet the needs of your community.
This has never been done before and whether we like it or not, growth is
Commissioner Georgan Roberts said that she would like a workshop to be held to
provide her with more information.
"We've only brought it up one time. I'd like to table it and bring it up at a
workshop," Roberts told her fellow commissioners. "I just don't know about this,
we've visioned just fine in High Springs."
"I respectfully disagree with another workshop," Gabriel told her. "It's time to
stop workshopping and move forward."
Gabriel urged his fellow commissioners to participate. "You keep making the
mistake that this is something the county is making us do. High Springs will
become what your vision is. It's not the county, it's just the opposite."
City Attorney Jim Pendland told the commission that he thought High Springs
would benefit from the participation; however, he asked them to be very certain
before they agreed to anything.
But it was the words of City Manager Bob Phillips that changed the tone of the
evening. "I came in tonight with an open mind but with concerns. Now after the
presentation I feel comfortable with the process and the outline for the
visioning will provide a good product."
He further told the commissioners that because of a position vacancy in city
hall, the money would be available for the project.
"I recommend that the city commission involve themselves in this process," he
The motion to approve the resolution passed 5-0.
In Other Commission Business
Pine Hills Cemetery, a neglected and historic burial ground in High Springs,
will receive the help of All Coast Engineering, Inc. to help determine unmarked
gravesites. The cemetery committee hopes to preserve some of the history of the
place while ensuring that new burials do not take place upon old ones. Within
the next two weeks the firm, along with Coughlin and members of the committee,
will spend at least three days marking sites determined to contain bodies. The
cost, covered in the cemetery funds, will be $1,500 per day.
A new subdivision near the intersection of Hwy. 441 and Boat Ramp Road south of
the Santa Fe River changed its conditional use permit from 80 platted lots to
40. The change came as a result of the Department of Transportation's
recommendation that the roads in the area could not withstand the impact of 80
Jeannette Peters, Executive Director of the High Springs Youth Center, reported
that funds were available for the Youth Center to operate at least through June.
A surprise donation of $4,000 from the High Springs Rotary Club will help
further their goals. They hope to have incorporation of a non-profit corporation
complete within several months and then major sources of grant funding will be
sought. The Youth Center now charges $5 per child per week.
Phillips introduced Penny Banks the new codes enforcement officer for High
Springs. Banks told the commission that he had an agenda for his first weeks on
the job. First he would deal with citizens' complaints, then buildings in
disrepair, and then municipal leans.
The Riverland subdivision off of County Road 27 in the north end of town has
been waiting for paving for seven months. In that time the lowest bidder for the
project raised his rates by $20,000. The residents and commission decided to get
another local bid in the next week and at the next meeting a decision would be
made on paving the road.
Phillips presented a revised plan for use of the Civic Center.
The commission decided to waive fees for local High Springs senior citizen
activities, churches, school activities, and fundraisers for children, although
these groups will still have to pay a $100 returnable security deposit. All
other non-profit organizations will pay a $50 cleaning fee and other groups will
still pay the $150 fee. Certain organizations like the Scouts, Elder Care Meal
Program, and the Chamber of Commerce will be grandfathered in regarding fees.