HIGH SPRINGS – Poe Springs, the County Road 236 paving project and fire protection topped the list of high priority topics at the June 13 joint meeting between the High Springs City Commission and the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners.

Lee Pinkoson, Vice Chair for Alachua County, sat in for Mike Byerly, who was not able to attend. Pinkoson and High Springs Mayor Sue Weller took turns leading discussions on the county’s Fire Service Master Plan, as it relates to High Springs Rescue 29, the re-opening of Poe Springs Park, the County Road 236 paving project, which has been on-hold for some time, extension of the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Boundary Adjustment Act, and the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MTPO).

A number of matters remained unresolved as both the county and city are constrained by reduced funding as compared to recent years.

Fire rescue

Currently, the City of High Springs does not have a rescue vehicle stationed in the city limits. It relies on Rescue 20, located near the dump between High Springs and Alachua, which serves both cities.

The Fire Service Master Plan calls for establishing a rescue vehicle and two people to operate it at the newly-renovated High Springs Fire Department and High Springs. Bruce Gillingham, the city’s fire chief, reported he has been contacted by the county to determine if space was available for the addition of the truck and personnel. However, county commissioners seemed reluctant to make a commitment regarding additional equipment or manpower.

After the meeting, Gillingham said the county was unable to provide specific information to the city as to whether he needs to include the vehicle and two people in their space allocation. Gillingham is currently allocating space in the new addition to the fire station, which is nearing completion. He said it would be helpful to know whether he needed to accommodate additional equipment and personnel in his planning efforts.

“It appears funding is a major issue for them as it is for everyone right now. We will proceed as usual as far as our planning is concerned,” Gillingham said. “If things change in the near future, we’ll back up and reconfigure our plans.”

Poe Springs

A couple of years ago, the county asked if High Springs might consider managing the Poe Springs recreational park. Renovations and improvements to the property by the county are nearing completion. According to the county, the park should be reopening soon.

City Manager Ed Booth said the city currently does not have funding for that type of undertaking. The city is in the early stages of considering budgeting for a part-time recreation director as the new fiscal year draws closer. A recreation director would be the likely position to manage the park.

County Road 236

The County Road 236 paving project, once listed on top of the county’s list of road paving projects, has taken a back seat to other projects in the past few years. While the road has been engineered and it is a partially funded project, the county does not have the money to proceed with the work at this time. Failed efforts to institute an additional tax for a 15-year time period in Alachua County would have brought additional funding for roads into the county’s coffers. Non-passage of the tax has limited the county’s ability to proceed with the project.

Mayor Weller said the road runs in front of a school and out to I-75, suggesting that part of the road could be paved, especially the section in front of the school, if the county didn’t have funding for the whole project.

Pinkoson indicated they were looking for grant money to handle many of the pending projects, but suggested that the possible inclusion of the smaller communities into Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MTPO) might be the answer to funding issues related to road paving and construction in the county.

Boundary Adjustment Act

County officials agreed to consider possible changes to the Boundary Adjustment Act if the Alachua League of Cities comes forth with proposed changes that all of the cities in the county could agree upon.

The Act is the governing method by which Alachua County’s municipal governments can annex property. It was officially adopted by the state legislature in 1990, but Alachua County was the only county in Florida to adopt it.

All other counties rely on Chapter 171, Part II, Florida Statutes, Interlocal Service Boundary Agreement Act, which governs annexation or contraction of property by municipal governments.

Many people believe the law should either be revised or repealed so that Alachua County could work under the guidelines of Chapter 171 like the rest of the state.


A discussion of a referendum to include the smaller municipal areas in the MTPO was the last agenda item for discussion. Currently, the MTPO is made up of the county commissioners and the city commissioners from Gainesville with Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper as a Florida League of Cities representative without voting rights on that board.

The county was seeking support of the smaller cities and outlying county areas to put a referendum on the ballot to include the entire county in the MTPO.

Pinkoson said the subject of how the MTPO might be reorganized later was not really the topic of his discussion. He said he thought it was crucial to get input from the smaller cities before putting something on the ballot. “Without the support of the outlying areas, we have no chance to make it work,” said Pinkoson. “We are trying to get input as to the use of the [MTPO] funds,” he said.

Projects would still be funneled through the county, but funding requests will be going through the MTPO, he explained. He said they had already received a project list from the city, but that it could be modified, if needed.

As always, funding is the sticking point for many of the decisions that depend on revenues for implementation.

#     #     #

Email Cwalker@