HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The High Springs City Commission met Oct. 21 to hammer out details of the Santa Fe Canoe Outpost purchase, which has been pushed from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5.
City Attorney Scott Walker suggested the due date for the Request for Proposal (RFP) for an entity to run the facility be set for Nov. 18. Walker said he had a meeting with City Manager Ashley Stathatos, Commissioner Ross Ambrose and others about the proposed RFP and a few changes will be made to the document, although there wasn’t time to incorporate into the original RFP.
Walker suggested evaluation intervals of every six months once the winning bidder takes over running the facility. “At 18 months, they will need to purchase new vehicles for the facility,” he said. The Commission was later informed that the current vehicles are not up to the standards the City would require. Walker also reviewed insurance requirements and said that current owner Jim Woods would stay on for 30 days after closing and be a resource through the transition.
Commissioners Scott Jamison and Ambrose voiced concerns that Woods would not be on hand for the transition with the new management team. Attorney Clay Martin said he believed that the owner is committed to a smooth transition and that although he no longer wanted to manage the Canoe Outpost, he would make himself available as much as possible to see the successful transition.
Walker further reviewed the schedule of assets, requirements based on the Alachua Conservation Trust to make sure the facility was ADA compliant and suggested that the bidders specify the days and times of operation and specify the amount that would go back to the City. The lowest amount discussed was seven percent of the proceeds, but could be higher, depending on what is ultimately negotiated in the final agreement. He further suggested the new management team should be on board by January 2022.
Martin produced a preliminary conservation easement for commission review during the meeting. Martin said that the Conservation Trust wanted to make sure the walkways, restrooms, boardwalks, buildings, etc. were ADA compliant, but that they wanted to see the land surrounding the facility left alone as a public passive education and recreation area.
Stathatos reported that Anderson Outdoor Adventures, a group that currently manages four locations on two rivers in north Florida, may be interested in providing their services in the interim between the time the City closes on the Canoe Outpost property and obtains an organization to run the facility. Stathatos said that Anderson has a fleet of vehicles up to the standards they would need and the people to drive them. The existing Canoe Outpost “fleet is not where it needs to be,” she said. She promised that there would be a “piggy-back agreement” for the commissioners to review with Anderson at the next commission meeting.
The purchase price of the Canoe Outpost land and assets is $600,000 with an additional $150,000 needed for improvements. Stathatos said funding sources include $175,000 through an Alachua County Forever grant and $575,000 from Wild Spaces Public Places funds.
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