Wild Waters To Be Removed From Silver Springs
OCALA - It's the first and one of the oldest water parks in Florida. It was officially decided that wild waters in Ocala will close down. Some residents feel like they aren't being heard.
A management plan for Silver Springs State Park has been in the works for some time now. Something the Marion County commission brought up as part of the plan was having a hotel near the springs… An idea that was turned away by the panel, however that wasn't the only thing that is being shot down.
Jessica Howe has pictures of when she was 4 years old at Wild Waters. "We had a lot of fun there and I would really hate to lose it. My kids love it and we spend the summers there," Howe said.
Jessica Howe grew up in Ocala and has fond memories of wild waters, a park that has been in Ocala since the 1970's. “When kids get out for the summer, there isn't a lot for them to do. If we lose wild waters, what are they going to do? They're going to get in trouble," Howe added.
She's disappointed to find out that water parks' days are limited. "They need to put a little bit of money just a little bit and they would be surprised at how things would pick up at the business that would actually pick up. If they would just put a little but into it, that's all it would take. It’s just a little bit," Howe said.
It was decided today that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will create a swimming area within the headsprings and once the swimming area is complete, the existing water park will be removed. A statement we received from the DEP reads, "Removing the aging water park will allow a wide range of aesthetic enhancements as well as promote future recreational and economic opportunity."
Mayor Kent Guinn is one of the two elected officials part of the Silver Springs Advisory Board. "So it's a great, great facility. We need to turn it into that again. It may be more eco-tourism type facility now but we still need to have people come and enjoy it," Guinn said.
The new plan includes new docks for boaters and trails for cyclists and equestrians. There's a website that supports Wild Waters. They tell us they're seeking attorneys to file a lawsuit to uphold their wishes.
"Now if they plan on closing it in 2016, which appears like that is what they're going to do. I would probably ask that they revisit that, I know they've put some money into it. Figure out a way that they could incorporate it into the park and make it eco-friendly and more part of what they're trying to do," Guinn said.
I also spoke to Commissioner Stan McClain who is part of the Silver Springs Advisory Board. He says he would love to see a private sector company create a new water park elsewhere in Marion County. For more information on the State's Management Plan, click here.
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