Silver Springs Opens As State Park
A local treasure is no longer an amusement park, but is now a state park.
On Tuesday Silver Springs opened as a florida state park.
Silver Springs and Silver River State Park are now one joint park.
The 4,600 acres of land is called "Silver Springs State Park."
"We couldn't miss the opening of the new and improved park," said Sandra Williams.
On Tuesday Sandra and Norris Williams of Ocala wanted nothing more than to see the transformation of Silver Springs State Park.
"We saw an improvement as soon as we left the parking lot. Everything is sharp and newly painted. Clean. A lot of junk is gone. The clarity of the water has improved," said Williams.
"The first thing we noticed is that the entrance has been redone," said Bob Delange who visited the park.
A private company called Palace Entertainment use to lease the park, but they ended the lease early.
Palace Entertainment paid the state $4 million for renovations.
"I'll miss the animal shows. The bird show in particularly and the alligator wrestling," said visitor Kenneth Mitchell.
While some may miss the attractions, others are glad to see the state taking over this local gem.
"We saw in the pass few years that it was going down. We said we are going to lose a treasure and the state came in and saved it," said Williams.
Director of Florida State Parks Donald Forgione said the state is working on improving the water quality in Silver Springs.
"The governor has given the state a lot of money for water quality. Millions and $20 million worth is going to be specifically for Silver Springs watershed," said Forgione.
State and local money will fund different projects which include reducing 663,000 pounds of nitrogen pollution per year flowing in to Silver Springs.
"No matter what we do here in the park, if we can't get the water right then we have not done what we needed to do and we are going to get the water right," said Forgione.
On Tuesday several visitors enjoyed new activities like canoeing and kayaking.
If you're wondering if the popular glass bottom boats are still here at Silver Springs, well they are and so are the captains.
Forgione said a concessionaire has partnered with the state and will be organizing concerts, shops and activities at the park.
The park will be open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to sunset. Entry to the park is $5 for single occupant vehicle or $8 per vehicle, up to eight people.
Individuals, bicyclists, extra passengers and groups will pay $2 per person. Admission is good for both the spring and river portions of the park.
While it's only the first day of Silver Springs becoming a state park, some visitors say there is still work to be done.
"It really needs restoration a lot," said Arlene Bernstein.
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