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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Alachua County commissioners on Monday requested a meeting with the city of Gainesville to discuss updates to UF’s Strategic Development Plan, which aims to renovate the university and areas surrounding the campus.

At a commission meeting, Charlie Lane, UF’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, briefed the commissioners about the changes to the plan, including adding more green spaces around Gainesville and developing fourth avenue.

The plan’s goal, Lane argued, is to propel UF to a top-ten status among public universities in the next 50 years, partly by connecting the university to downtown through a partnership with the UF School of Art to organize art installations around the city.

But it is not without challenges, as a fear of UF becoming too crowded has posed challenges to the renovations, he said.

“The goal here is to create collaboration through density,” Lane said.

The commissioners also discussed the possible relocation of Fire Station 19, currently located at 2000 SW 43rd St, and unused land, currently maintained by the Regional Transit System, that the city wants to use.

The county gave Gainesville the space for an operations facility, but it is currently not being used.

"Personally, I think the property, if it were clean, is worth millions of dollars," County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson said.

The county commission decided to write a letter to the city commission detailing their thoughts about taking the land back.

The commission also discussed the renewal of option fuel taxes, such as the gas tax, but County Commissioner Mike Byerly suggested the commission delay the three-cent tax for one year and discuss it during that time.

“Maybe the thing we ought to do is take a breather on this,” he said. “Right now, I believe things have become so toxic the discussion is not likely to be productive.”

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