The City of Newberry Commission has approved the purchase of 93 acres to expand its wastewater treatment facility.
In a unanimous vote Monday night, the commission agreed to spend $1,167,500 on the acquisition that will help answer the state’s requirement that Newberry expand its wastewater capacity.
The parcel is located adjacent to the west side of the current wastewater plant and extends to SW 266th Street.
According to City Manager Mike New, the current wastewater treatment facility is reaching the end of its capacity with .560 millions of gallons per day (MGD).
The planning phase for the future facility is 75 percent complete, New said, and it allows for 1.1 MGD for Newberry. The facility also will have capacity to become a regional treatment facility for neighboring Archer, Trenton and High Springs.
As per the agreement, Newberry will make a $50,000 deposit on the property that is expected to close by Dec. 31.
The wastewater facility is expected to occupy 78 of the 93 acres, leaving 15 acres for the city to use at its discretion.
Mayor Jordan Marlowe addressed rumors about what those extra acres might become and asked New to discuss possibilities.
New mentioned a roster of items that have been discussed, including a county rural collection center, a Newberry public works compound, an Alachua County firefighting training center and a possible meat processing center.
According to New, the next step is to have a consultant draw up a master site plan that will take into account traffic flow and the best fit with the Newberry community.
Funding sources for the land acquisition include wastewater development fees, a Florida SRF program (state revolving fund), and a $700,000 Suwannee River Water Management District Springs grant.
A contingency built into the purchase agreement allows the city to conduct feasibility studies and geotechnical exploration of the 93 acres to rule out sinkholes and address risk mitigation.
“This is a culmination of a lot of work,” Marlowe said about an action that was mandated by the state.
Marlowe said what becomes of the surplus acreage will be thoroughly vetted.
“That’s why we have conversations,” he said. “We’ve got 15 acres left, and a whole lot of competing ideas.”