County sets in motion scenic designation of Tuscawilla Road

There are centuries of history packed into the mile-long stretch of road that connects historic downtown Micanopy with U.S. Highway 441, making it a candidate for joining five other roads in Alachua County as a County Scenic Road Corridor.

Tuscawilla Road has subtle curves, a canopy of vibrant trees and access to Alachua County’s Tuscawilla Preserve, the John E. Thrasher III and Eleanor K. Thrasher Park and the Micanopy American Preserve.

At the Feb. 23rd Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, a unanimous vote earned the two-lane road a chance for a public hearing that could lead to it becoming the first road in the county to be added to the County Scenic Road Corridor since 2005.

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The Scenic Road Ordinance was established in 1980, according to the background information prepared by Kathleen Pagan, a planner in the Alachua County Growth Management Department who presented the idea to the BOCC.

Tuscawilla Preserve.JPG

The ordinance creates protected areas along scenic designated roadways that extend 100 feet from the right-of-way boundary.

There are currently portions of five roads designated as scenic roads in Alachua County: Millhopper Road (CR 232) in Gainesville, Ft. Clarke Church Road in Jonesville, Crown Road from SW 56 Avenue to SW 17th Terrace, Old Bellamy Road between Alachua and High Springs and the Dusty Trail SW 15th Avenue in Newberry.

In her staff analysis, Pagan presented Tuscawilla Road as, “A two-lane facility between Cholokka Boulevard in the Micanopy Town limits connecting to the US 441 intersection within the county jurisdiction. The land uses along the corridor with the town limits include large lot residential, institutional and the Town Native American Preserve.”

A drive down the meandering road takes visitors past two churches, the 45-acre preserve, grazing pastures, and an historical Seminole burial site. It connects traffic from downtown Micanopy to US 441.

The nomination for scenic designation of the road came from resident Aaron Weber who said he has driven Tuscawilla Road daily for 11 years and often bikes it as well.

“It’s to protect the tree canopy and the historic nature of the road,” Weber said. “It’s under threat and a scenic designation would set aside a 100-foot buffer for tree protection. People come from Canada and neighboring states just to see Micanopy.”

Weber also said the Seminole history of the area will continue to be in the spotlight under the designation.

Bald eagles

“It’s important for the county to also recognize the Native American history in all of its reconciliation efforts,” he said, referring to the removal of Seminole Indians under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Tuscawilla Road hosts the history of the Battle of Micanopy and the Second Seminole War at the Native American Preserve park.

Before Pagan began her presentation, Commissioner Anna Prizzia made the motion to approve consideration of the road as a designated County Scenic Road, and her motion was seconded by several board members.

After Pagan’s report, a unanimous vote scheduled a public hearing in a future meeting to move forward with the idea.

Tuscawilla Road is part of the state designated “Old Florida Heritage Highway,” as of June 2001, and the move coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Florida Scenic Highways Program.

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