The Alachua Board of County Commissioners agreed to postpone a letter of intent to donate 103 acres to the U.S. Army and revisit the item at the first regular meeting in April.
The property, located in the northeast corridor of Gainesville, would become an Army surplus area housing military vehicles and equipment.
Several members of the 4As (African American Accountability Alliance) spoke to the BOCC at the Feb. 25 meeting asking that the decision to approve a letter of intent be postponed until the community could learn more about the impact a surplus station would have and if the property would benefit the community if it was developed.
Darry Lloyd, president of the 4As, said many questions about the parcel had not been answered.
“We haven’t had done due diligence,” Lloyd said. “We asked questions regarding this information and we haven’t the answers. So before you move forward doing a deed and just giving the property to the military, I believe more citizens need to be engaged in this process.”
“When you look at what has been promised to the folks in the eastern corridor of this county there hasn’t been enough done, enough conversations,” Lloyd added. “We can do better than that.”
County Manager Michele Lieberman said the letter of intent did not guarantee a transfer of property.
“We are not deeding the property,” Leiberman said. “The resolution and letter of intent is required to show that the County has the right to transfer the property. It’s merely a step in the process that allows (the U.S. Army) to complete their due diligence.”
County Commissioner Ken Cornell agreed that neither the County Commission nor the U.S. Army had done a good job communicating to the community the benefits of the land transfer would offer.
“Where has the reserve done this in another part of the country?,” Cornell asked. “What is the economic impact, so the community can understand we’re not just giving away money so the Army has a place. It’s an economic driver. If this is such a great thing, we should be promoting it.”
Cornell said he was interested in getting back the direct and indirect economic status report about the surplus station from the University of Florida in the next two weeks. The property was originally deeded to Alachua County in 1972.
Cornell then successfully moved to postpone the item to the April 7 meeting and direct staff to reach out to the Airport Authority for its written input regarding its outparcels and responding to the Board with opportunities to combine those or how having an Army facility would affect those outparcels.