Wild Spaces and Public Places History

Gainesville/Alachua County Senior Recreation Center

Gainesville/Alachua County Senior Recreation Center

The Citizens of Alachua County voted to approve the Wild Spaces and Public Places (WSPP) Referendum, a one-half percent sales tax, for a second time in 2016. The first time this funding source was implemented in Alachua County was in 2008 with 50.4% voter support. The two year one half-cent sales tax, collected from 2009-2010, resulted in the City of Gainesville receiving approximately $12 million for park renovations and to acquire environmentally sensitive lands. Some of the highlighted projects from this program included: heating and cooling Dwight H. Hunter (Northeast) Pool, renovation of the historic Depot Building, construction of the Gainesville/Alachua Senior Recreation Center, acquisition of 395 acres of environmentally sensitive lands, renovation of Smokey Bear Park, construction of Possum Creek Park, renovation of the Thomas Center, construction of the Fred Cone Park Track and many more.

On November 8, 2016, 60.4% of Alachua County voters approved “Wild Spaces and Public Places (WSPP),” a one-half percent sales tax to be collected in Alachua County from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2024, to acquire and improve environmentally sensitive lands and to create, improve and maintain parks and recreational facilities. A share (35.78%) of the proceeds of the sales tax is distributed to the City of Gainesville, Florida in accordance with the State Default Formula for Alachua County. The ballot language called for citizen oversight and independent audit. The City began receiving revenues in late March of 2017 with a total projection of $60,000,000 by 2025.

Project List Development

Track & Field Facility at Fred Cone Park

The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs (PRCA) Vision 2020 Master Plan was approved in November 2012.  Staff and over 1700 citizens worked together on the development of a specific list of projects referenced in the Master Plan. The Master Plan is an $81 million plan of which a large portion of the projects are improvements and renovations to existing parks and facilities with a few signature projects such as a cultural center and amphitheater; 8 new neighborhood parks; a new athletic complex; a new multipurpose center and expanded programming. In addition to the revenue projection over the eight years of the WSPP tax, the County has committed to partnering with the City on $3,000,000 worth of City projects that have county-wide impact and the City will also receive $660,000 from the County’s WSPP Municipal Grant Program.

In conjunction with a great deal of citizen input from appointed advisory boards and advocates, staff developed a list of projects with approximate cost estimates that was approved by the City Commission on February 18, 2016. The City Commission also approved a list of 99 potential WSPP projects and a list of potential City/County projects. The WSPP Team will periodically go before the City Commission and General Policy Committee between 2018 and 2025 to discuss projects and receive approvals. 

Skater at Possum Creek Park

Skate park at Possum Creek Park

For a more thorough summary of what took place during the 2009-2010 Wild Spaces and Public Places please refer to these documents: