A year from now, Gainesville could have a new park with trails on its northern edge — at least if Alachua County commissioner Robert Hutchinson’s vision becomes reality.
That 12-month trail-opening timeline was part of his motion Tuesday night to have the county spend $2.9 million for its share of a joint $4.4 million purchase with the City of Gainesville. The two governments are together buying 700 acres known as the Weiss property.
Hutchinson’s four fellow county commissioners supported him in a unanimous 5-0 vote that also included putting the property onto the Alachua County Forever Registry of Protected Public Places and determining where the wildlife migration areas are so that any proposed recreation space would not damage them.
Arthur Weiss, a Boca Raton developer, has owned the property since the late 1970s and tried to build a Haile Plantation-style community on it in the late 1990s. The city rejected his plans, and the hundreds of acres of woods and swampland have remained ever since.
There also exists a trail system in some parts, according to Hutchinson, that the city and county could take advantage of as they come up with a management plan that allows recreation.
“One of the issues we hear about is we buy these properties and don’t open them up,” Hutchinson said. “I think we should be able to open up the most basic trailhead, a kiosk, and let people use a portion of the property within a year.”
A closing for the property’s sale to the public would take place 90 days following an approval by the city commission, which would spend $1.5 million for a title to 244 acres. Its vote is scheduled for June 21.