GAINESVILLE – Members of the Alachua County Tourist Development Council (TDC) voted Wednesday against funding a project that would expand the Hal Brady Recreation Complex in the City of Alachua through the purchase of an adjacent 105 acres of land currently zoned for a large residential development.
Despite the TDC’s vote, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is still set to consider on Tuesday the City’s request for $500,000 in funding from the bed tax, fees collected on hotel, motel, campground and similar rentals.
The 6-2 vote of the TDC followed a lengthy discussion among board members, some who raised concerns that the $500,000 request was subverting the typical request process. Other board members, however, were in favor of the expansion the plan. Council member Lucie Regensdorf, owner and operator of The Grady House Bed and Breakfast in High Springs, was supportive of Alachua’s bid for the funding.
Dubbed ‘Project Legacy,’ the expansion plan was presented to the BOCC in September, but commissioners declined to decide on it until further details were presented.
At the request of the county commissioners, Assistant to City Manager Adam Boukari discussed the plans in front of the TDC Wednesday. The complex, which is currently 25 acres, would include an additional 105 acres of land if approved at a county commission meeting set for Oct. 25.
The City is currently sitting on a contract with an option to buy the 105-acre parcel of land from a Kissimmee-based private developer. That contract expires Dec. 31, after which time, the opportunity to purchase would reportedly be lost and the land is slated for use as a residential development containing 215 homes.
Although the city is requesting $500,000 in tourist development tax funds. The total cost of the land is $1.2 million. The city has already raised the majority of the money required for the purchase.
With the expansion, the sports complex would have three multi-purpose arenas and the ability to host large-scale tournaments, including for lacrosse, an emerging sport. Those tournaments, city officials say, would generate money through the bed tax.
The Hal Brady Recreation Complex was selected to host the 2012 Babe Ruth Softball 12U World Series. In attracting 20 teams, the event would bring in approximately $3,562.50 in bed taxes alone based on an estimated 950 hotel room nights at $75 per room.
The BOCC is set to consider the City of Alachua’s request at the Oct. 25 commission meeting.
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