The Alachua County Board of Commissioners voted to give an extra day of access to Poe Springs Park starting this Friday, July 17th. And if grant funds are approved, the park might open up to regular operating hours of seven days a week soon.
Starting Friday the new hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays and 8 a.m. to dusk (about 8 p.m.) on Saturdays and Sundays. The park is located in High Springs at 28800 County Highway 340. The park will continue to operate at 50 percent capacity on those days due to COVID-19.
County Commissioner Mike Byerly said that opening the park for more days is what the community needs.
"I'm thinking about getting kids out," he said. "They can come during the week to take the pressure off the weekends." If the grant funds are awarded, Bylerly wants the park open seven days a week.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the manpower needed to operate the park," Assistant County Manager Gina Peebles said. "There is a person at the front gate to collect fees and measure capacity, personnel overseeing the parking lot and cleaning the facilities and a staff member watching over the springs to enforce social distancing."
High Springs resident Tamara Robbins called into the meeting to suggest shortening hours of operations of parks that feature trails and send the staff to oversee parks such as Poe Springs where swimming and cooling off is the draw in the summer.
"Take into consideration of other parks that some (visitors) aren't into hiking but are into swimming, so reallocate the staff," she suggested.
It would cost an additional $65,000 to open Poe Springs back up with extra staffing according to Peebles who applied for a grant through CareerSource employment agency and is waiting to hear back.
The cost to access Poe Springs is $5 per car.
Peebles said that Alachua County's Parks and Open Spaces Department is "thrilled to provide an additional day of fun for our community at Poe Springs."