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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Alachua County wants buyer of Camp McConnell to use the land for community purposes

<p>A photo of&nbsp;<span id="docs-internal-guid-6b63990a-db9e-74bd-5e0a-c5911977c78c"><span>Camp McConnell</span></span></p>

A photo of Camp McConnell

Alachua County commissioners have taken a step forward in deciding the future of Camp McConnell: They’ve set rules for how the land can be used.

During an April 10 meeting, commissioners discussed options for the ownership and management of the 212-acre land located at 210 SE 134 Ave. in Micanopy. The commissioners told the Department of Parks and Conservation Lands and the County Attorney's Office to begin the process of drafting a conservation easement, or rules for how the land can be used, said county spokesperson Mark Sexton.

Once finished, the rules will be available for the commission to review. Then, the commission will begin looking for buyers. The process could take a couple of months.

The county bought the property last June from the YMCA of the Palm Beaches for about $1.02 million, using money from the Wild Spaces and Public Places fund, which is a half-cent sales tax, he said. Money from the future sale will go back into Wild Spaces and Public Places.

“It’s a valuable piece of property,” Sexton said. “There’s a large track of wooded property and there’s a lake.”

The commission didn’t want to sell it for one purpose and then have someone turn around and sell it for another kind of development, he said.

“They’re looking for projects that would benefit Alachua County residents,” Sexton said. “Its former use as a summer camp or a year-round camp for different activities is very attractive to the board.”

The easement draft will include restrictions like environmental conditions, not splitting up the land in any way and using it for educational, recreational, public service or social purposes, said Charlie Houder, county director of the Department of Parks and Conservation Lands.

County officials and commissioners are looking for a compatible buyer who will use the land for purposes that fall under the terms of the easement.

A few organizations have expressed interest in the property, including wilderness-based organizations focused on conservation known as Basecamp Ventures, Embrace Community Center and Jonesville Tennis Center, Houder said.

“If they get an offer from an entity that will use it for one of those purposes and is willing to pay a fair price, I think that’s what the board is looking for,” he said.

A photo of Camp McConnell

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