The City of Alachua celebrated the $1.2 million acquisition of 105 acres of land, which adjoins the Hal Brady Recreation Complex. Participating in the celebratory ribbon cutting were L-R: G.B. Wilson, Susanne Wilson Bullard, Craig Harris, Traci Cain, Shirley Brown, Adam Boukari, Gib Coerper, Paula DeLaney, Justin Revuelta, Gary Hardacre, Susan Baird, Ben Boukari, Jr., Orien Hills, Hal Brady and Lee Pinkoson.
ALACHUA – On May 17, city and county officials, local dignitaries, business owners and residents gathered amidst rolling hills at the site of what has become known as Project Legacy. The group came together to commemorate the city’s acquisition of 105 acres of land to expand the Hal Brady Recreation Complex with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The $1.2 million purchase, a centerpiece of the city’s Project Legacy expansion project, will supplement the original 25 acres that made up the recreation center on Peggy Road/County Road 2054.
Alachua City Manager Traci Cain said the purchase means a positive change in the lives of Alachua residents.
“I think it will improve the quality of live for people who continue to call Alachua home,” Cain said. “The youth and adults of Alachua will be able to use this facility together as families.”
Assistant to the City Manager Adam Boukari said plans are in place to construct three multi-purpose sports fields on the land, which will be used to host soccer, lacrosse and football competitions, among others.
“Our hope is that these facilities will allow us to host tournaments, which in turn will attract business from out of town to our hotels and restaurants and generally increase tourism business in Alachua overall,” Boukari said.
Cain said the three multi-purpose fields are the only concrete plans in place for the new land, and said she believes the land offers plenty of room for development.
“At this point, the three fields are the only sure thing,” Cain said. “Future staff will decide what will be constructed.”
The City of Alachua began the acquisition campaign nearly two years ago and acquired the property in December 2011with a combination of funding totaling approximately $1.2 million. During his remarks at the ceremony, Boukari told the crowd of about 100 that several years ago the land had been purchased for over $4 million by Craig Harris, a land developer from Kissimmee, Fla., who then sold it to the City of Alachua for the much reduced price of $1.2 million.
Harris, who was honored with a standing ovation at the ceremony, had planned to develop over 200 houses on the land, but opted instead to sell the acreage for a decreased price as an act of philanthropy.
The land, which had already been used by the city to provide parking for annual 4th of July celebrations and other larger events, was purchased using $500,000 from the Wild Spaces, Public Places funds, $500,000 from the Tourist Development Tax funds and approximately $200,000 from privately donated funds
Mayor Gib Coerper provided attendees with a history of the project and the land and explained its importance to the community’s quality of life.
Alachua County Board of County Commission Chair Paula DeLaney spoke on behalf of the County Commission and offered her insight into Alachua’s rich recreation history. Coerper, along with his fellow City Commissioners, presented DeLaney and members of the County Commission with a plaque of appreciation for partnering with Alachua on the project.
“We were so thrilled with the great turnout and show of support from our community,” said City Manager Traci Cain. “This day has been a long time coming and it was only made possible by the efforts of countless individuals. Alachua is deeply appreciative of the many people who made Project Legacy a reality.” Recognized during the ceremony were donors including individuals, businesses and organizations. Also recognized were members of the “Project Legacy Team” who worked on various aspects of the project. The ceremony culminated with the cutting of the ribbon signifying the new ownership of the property and the future it holds for the community.
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