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HIGH SPRINGS – Recreation is a large part of people’s enjoyment of the community in which they live. Realizing that, as well as having the opportunity to purchase 3.88 acres east of Memorial Park, 2715 U.S. Highway 441, the High Springs City Commission approved a land purchase to improve the recreational facilities at that park.

The City will also plans to submit a grant application to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop the nearly four-acre site. The grant being considered would provide $200,000, with a match from the City of the same amount, resulting in $400,000 to make improvements to the Memorial Park Extension. The City intends to use money from Wild Spaces Public Places, already awarded to High Springs, for the $200,000 match.

Recreation Director Robert Basford was on hand to explain the proposed improvements to that property. As there is currently no parking area provided at Memorial Park, one of the first things he mentioned was a 100-vehicle parking area.

“Right now, if you go by there, you can see cars parked everywhere because we don’t have places to park,” he said. He also said there are currently 13 softball fields, but no baseball fields in the city, so a baseball field is another feature of the intended improvements. Lighting will also be included in the grant proposal along with a new playground. “We don’t have a playground at that park,” he said.

There are other items to be included in the grant request, just in case funds are available after all of the main projects have been completed. One item mentioned by Basford is a walking trail.

Before city commissioners considered the property purchase during the March 22 commission meeting, City Attorney Scott Walker said that during a title search of the property it was found that there was an exception granted to Seaboard Coastline Railroad whereby they had reserved a mineral rights easement on the property.

“Both Mr. Booth [city manager] and I think it doesn’t affect the proper use we have for the property,” he said. “This is a very common thing with railroads. The commission needs to decide if they will accept the title exception.”

The property closing agreement includes the cost of the land purchase at $194,000, $23 settlement charges to be paid to the city attorney, a binder deposit of $20,000, leaving $173,236 for the City of High Springs to pay the property owner.

On another recreation-related topic, City Manager Ed Booth explained that the Civic Center building renovation was going along well and the project is expected to be completed by the first or second week of April.

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