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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

In its Tuesday meeting, the Alachua County Commission unanimously approved a purchase contract of the West End Golf course by Viking Companies.

Since 2019, the Newberry golf course has sat overgrown and rundown. First opened in 1969, the course was once a premiere spot for the county’s golf community, and now it has a chance to be revived as a park for public use.

Viking Companies offered the property for $3.8 million, an over $2 million price decrease since the last time the course was offered for sale.

Eight people spoke during public comment in favor of the contract.

Diana Hornby, an Alachua County resident, said she was familiar with what West End used to be from her husband’s “addiction to golf” and appreciated how walkable the area was.

“It always seemed to be a place of community, young and old enjoying a wonderful urban oasis,” Hornby said.

“Critical green space in the urban environment is hard to find these days,” Hornby said. “We need green space for our mental and physical health. As once it is gone, it is gone forever.”

Since the course’s closure, the area has been the site of proposals to build homes and commercial properties, which were all denied.

Jonesville resident Steve Provost supported the recommendation to place a park near his home.

The park is set to include a cross country track, a feature that could be used as a part of the World Masters Tournament, which will be hosted in Gainesville in 2025.

Alachua County resident Tamara Robbins, while generally in favor of the contract, warned rushed timelines of the project to accommodate the World Masters could lead to issues falling through the cracks.

“In my mind, as a member of the public, when it says time is of the essence, and you’re short on time, and you can’t exercise due diligence, it means the public gets reamed,” Robbins said.

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Regardless of whether the World Masters is held at the park, the contract elicited a hopeful response from both the public and county commissioners.

“I would make this motion today if the World Masters didn’t exist, and I would make it tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day because we need parks out there and this is a perfect site for it,” said Alachua County Commissioner Anna Prizzia.

The next general county commission meeting is scheduled for June 11.

Contact Morgan Vanderlaan at mvanderlaan@alligator.org. Follow her on X @morgvande.

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Morgan Vanderlaan

Morgan Vanderlaan is a first-year Political Science and English major and the City and County Commission Reporter for The Alligator. When she’s not on the clock, she can be found watching, writing and reciting theatre!


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