Dozens apply for Cuscowilla manager job

The job comes with an onsite three-bedroom home, a company vehicle and more than 200 acres of property including conservation lands just outside the door.

As of Friday, more than 50 applicants from all over the United States and beyond had applied for the Cuscowilla manager position that pays $70,761 per year.

“It’s a pretty sweet gig,” Alachua County chief of staff Gina Peebles said during a Thursday facility tour she took with the Alachua Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).

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But, Peebles added, “You will have to work.”

Alachua County purchased the Cuscowilla property, formerly Camp McConnell, at public auction in 2017 for $1,027,000 using funds from the Wild Spaces Public Places surtax.

The BOCC renamed the property to represent the long Native American history of Micanopy, where the facility is located.

According to the county’s background information, “the Indian trading post and white settlement was named Tuscawilla, but Cuscowilla was the name given to the Capital Village of the local Seminole people. Cuscowilla was the dwelling of Chief Micanopy and what was left of the Seminole tribe, before being captured, thereby ending the Second Seminole War. The Board of County Commissioners found it fitting to name the property Cuscowilla to honor this heritage.”

On Tuesday, the BOCC will make a decision on approving the funds to bring the 110,000 gallon chlorine water swimming pool up to date.

“Rather than tear it up, we’ll take the marcite down to the concrete, add new tiles and railing, fix up and repaint,” said Steve Wargo, Alachua County’s facilities manager.

Wargo, along with Alachua County Parks and Open Space Manager Jason Maurer, went building by building explaining upgrades and future uses for most and pointed out some features on the property that didn’t pass inspection and will be demolished.

According to Wargo, priority upgrades include the main lodge getting a new roof and new double-pane energy efficient windows that come with a lifetime warranty.

The old cast iron stove in the commercial kitchen will be cleaned and refurbished and some buildings need to be brought up to compliance with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements.

A concession stand remodel, switching the lighting to LED and a state-of-the-art VRF (variable refrigerant flow) air condition system will be installed.

The cost of repairing the pool is estimated at $184,000 and, if approved on Tuesday, will be done in 60 days, Wargo said. He added that the toilets, shower heads and faucets will all be upgraded for minimal water use.

The Cuscowilla manager position requires a bachelor’s degree plus three years of parks and/or recreation management experience (including two years as a supervisor), or an associate degree plus five years of parks and/or recreation management experience (including two years as a supervisor). Also applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent plus seven years of parks and/or recreation management experience could apply.

According to the position summary, the manager will plan and administer all programs and activities of Cuscowilla while living onsite in a county-provided residence.

Other duties in the job description include: “Educating Cuscowilla staff about policies and procedures; generating ideas for new and innovative programs; marketing facilities to outside groups to promote rentals and usage of Cuscowilla; working collaboratively with internal and external partners; serving in an advisory role for the “Friends of Cuscowilla” group; leading the diverse staff of the Cuscowilla division of the Parks and Open Space Department.”

According to Peebles, the applicants will be narrowed down by staff before deciding on the most qualified candidate. And that new hire will then be followed by hiring an onsite dedicated facilities manager who will also live at Cuscowilla full time.

Maurer, pointed out more of the structures on the property to tour takers. They included the disc golf course, a future rock climbing wall and area that will be used for team building exercises and for outdoor adventures.

“We’re working on restoring the nature trail,” he said as the group passed the archery range and former art buildings.

County Commissioner Marihelen Wheeler has been a proponent of the county taking over the operations at the property and said it’s more than a camp. “It’s an outdoor environmental education center.” she said.

Commissioner Charles Chestnut said the property, “Was worth every dime.”

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