Poe Springs reopens on the Fourth


This photo provided by Alachua County shows part of a new retaining wall and steps at Poe Springs Park.

Alachua County
Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 1:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 1:16 p.m.

Closed a year and a half, Poe Springs Park on the Santa Fe River will reopen today, just in time for Fourth of July celebrations.

Facts

Info box

What: Poe Springs Park, 28800 NW 182nd Ave., High Springs
Hours: Thursday to Sunday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Admission: Free

Alachua County shut the park in December 2011 for a construction project that included a new retaining wall and steps in the spring-fed swimming area, new landscaping and new roofs and air-conditioning units on the buildings and pavilions.

The cost for the retaining wall and stairs was $146,730. Last November, the County Commission approved a budget of $148,500 for the roof repairs, new fencing and air-conditioners and other work.

During the time the park was closed, first drought sapped the spring and the Santa Fe River and then Tropical Storm Debby caused flooding and construction delays.

Parks Superintendent Robert Avery said the spring is now flowing well and there is "plenty of water" in the swimming area.

For the foreseeable future, the park will be open only four days a week — Thursday through Sunday.

It remains to be seen what the Alachua County Commission's long-term plans are for Poe Springs, Commissioner Lee Pinkoson said.

Currently, it's a bare bones operation with one full-time maintenance worker and no admission charge. Previously, the county had contracted out management. The YMCA ran the park for close to 20 years. A private firm, Nature Quest, then ran it for about 2 years.

Citing a lack of maintenance and other issues at the park, the county ended its contract with Nature Quest at the end of September 2011.

The county then took over management and charged no admission before the park closed for construction in December 2011.

In 2011 and into 2012, the city of High Springs was in talks with the county to potentially take over the park.

Pinkoson said those talks tailed off while construction carried on and it's unclear if such talks might start up again.

Pinkoson said if High Springs officials did show renewed interest, he feels the park would be an asset to the city.

High Springs City Manager Edwin Booth said the city will bring in a recreation director at the start of the upcoming fiscal year and restart its dormant recreation program. Two to three years from now, he sees the city potentially renewing its effort to take over operation of the park.

"If I can show them (city commissioners) there will be a benefit to the city, I don't think there will be a problem," Booth said.

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