Springs Attract Worldwide Visitors
A major draw to the High Springs area is the beautiful springs and streams, all within 30 minutes of the city. These include Poe Springs, Blue Springs, Ginnie Springs, and the Santa Fe River. Florida’s springs and rivers have long been known as premiere natural vacation destinations, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.
No matter how hot the summers get, the water in any of Florida’s hundreds of freshwater springs is never warmer than 75 degrees. Most spring water ranges from a refreshing 68 to 72 degrees year-round.
The Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, which is located in High Springs, is committed to conserving Florida’s springs through science and education. It has spent the past nine years monitoring the water quality of springs throughout Florida.
The Institute hosts several charity events to benefit Florida’s springs as well as educational programs for adults and children who want to learn more.
The springs also attract divers from around the world. Cave Country Dive Shop is happy to welcome and educate these visitors. “Many divers from all over the world travel here to visit, dive in, and enjoy our springs and caves,” said manager Kristi Bernot.
The store offer fills, repair, gear rental, service, and diving courses, from basic training to training of instructors.
“We love the small-town feel,” Bernot said. “Our customers are like family, and we enjoy all the wonderful outdoor activities to be found in the area.”
Another CRA project is restoring the historic railroad caboose, now housed behind city hall, and moving it downtown.
The CRA is working with the National Railway Historical Society is make the restoration authentic. “The caboose with be a unique attraction in northwest Alachua County,” Sutton said.
Sutton, who is president of the High Springs Historical Society, said he is guided by the organization’s motto: “Preserve the past while promoting the future.”
The comp plan update has the motto:
High Springs 2040:
Your Voice. Your Vision. Your City.
It will cover topics including future land use planning, community design, economic development, historic preservation, housing, capital improvements, and schools.
“We need to find ways to attract higher-paying jobs, including development of some economic incentives,” Sutton said.
The city has land available in its current industrial park, and about 1,000 acres within the city limits has environmental features that make it attractive for well-planned growth.
A key topic in the comp plan discussion will be finding ways to provide enough sewer and water capacity to meet residential growth demands while ensuring that growth will be attractive and environmentally friendly.
The current growth is spurred by the availability of new housing for around $200,000, said Planning Assistant Kristy Adkins.
“We’re experiencing lots of growth because people want homes that are affordable in a neighborhood with sidewalks and playgrounds in a place where people get to know each other,” Adkins said.
Planning for Economic Advancement, Historic Preservation
High Springs is working toward a prosperous future that accentuates its history while paving the way for healthy growth and good-paying jobs for people of all education levels.
These efforts include work of the High Springs Community Redevelopment Agency, led by High Springs native David Sutton, and an update to the city’s comprehensive plan.
“I want to help the people and the existing businesses grow while attracting new businesses that find High Springs as special as I do and want to be a part of our community,” he said.
The CRA was created in 1986. The property taxes for city government and for Alachua County Government were frozen at that time, and the “incremental” revenue above that funds the CRA through a mechanism known as tax increment financing.
The CRA provides matching grants of up to $5,000 in façade grants. Recently, the grants helped improve the exterior of First Avenue Center and provided an awning for the Hair & Nail Depot.
The biggest upcoming project in which the CRA is assisting is to build a 100 by 140- foot pavilion for the High Springs Farmers Market, which include ceiling cooling fans and brick columns. The funding is coming from a nearly $200,000 USDA grant.
“The pavilion will help attract a larger and more diverse group of vendors, bringing people downtown not only for the Farmers’ Market but for the other shops along Main Street,” Sutton said. “The Farmer’s Market is very important because it highlights our local homemade crafts and produce.”
CITY HALL ADDRESS
23718 West US Highway 27,
High Springs, FL 32643
MAYOR CITY MANAGER
Bryan Williams Joel DeCoursey, Jr