Phil Emmer: A win for water and recreation

Published: Monday, May 13, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 at 8:46 p.m.

On Dec. 23, The Sun carried a column by environmentalist Robert Knight recommending the restoration of Glen Springs to its original beauty and recreational values, while also retrieving its value as a water source (and resource). The idea could go a very long way in improving Gainesville's water resources as he suggested, but could even become much more beneficial to the community as a recreational area.

Nathan Collier previously offered $1 million to the city of Gainesville in return for acquiring about 5 acres of wooded conservation property adjacent to his home. Knight's proposal to use the money to buy Glen Springs could be a wonderful (and economically low cost) home run to the city and its citizens.

The proposal is both a way to preserve our water and create an excellent recreation area. Golly, what a great idea — way better than purchasing a run-down, decrepit old restaurant on Fifth Avenue.

Several letters followed suggesting other public uses with the million bucks. All had their merit, but I'll stick with Knight's suggestion. I called Collier and asked if he would show me the area under discussion. I walked it with him and realized that this very small piece of property was useless in comparison to extension of the well wooded and low wetlands just adjacent to this parcel.

I decided to take a closer look and traversed a couple of man-made bridges on the north side of Eighth Avenue to take a better look. These bridges extended north to communities facing 16th Avenue. The creeks flowed, the trees were growing and the wildlife felt at home (or so I believe). This area extends more than 8/10 of a mile from the Collier property to Northwest 31st Street adjacent to the lovely and well used city park facing 34th Street.

The fact is that this small piece of land is a very small part of a huge wetland that runs about 80 percent of a mile in length on the north side of Eighth Avenue and well over a mile on the south side. Both wooded parcels are wetlands and connected to existing creeks and the piece that he wants saved.

More recently Knight spoke at Rotary and it is likely that every member there supported the idea that this local springs should be saved.

I hope the citizens of Gainesville check what I have written to see the accuracy of the above. Further, I would hope our city's elected officials actually walk the land that Nathan Collier wants to buy and see how silly it would be to pass up the million bucks.

If they do not do so, then the citizens of Gainesville will be the loser. They will see for themselves that this is a wonderful benefit for Glen Springs, the people living in Gainesville and the water we so vitally need to protect.

Phil Emmer lives in Gainesville.

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