Thank you for your questionnaire regarding Silver Springs. Below are my responses.
1 - What is YOUR vision for Silver Springs State Park once the State of Florida takes over management on October 1st.
I would envision a vibrant beautiful state park that is in keeping with the other state parks in Florida. My family enjoys camping and the Florida State Park system does a great job at providing facilities and recreation as a means of enjoying the natural beauty of the state, and I believe Silver Springs State Park can become the crown jewel in the state park system.
2 - What do YOU believe is the biggest issue that faces Silver Springs and what would be your solution.
I believe there are two issues that need to be dealt with. First the springs itself needs to be cleaned. I am not an expert in environmental contamination, but in order to attract visitors the Springs itself needs to be restored to it's natural beauty. Secondly, because of recent events, the public seems to be gun shy when it comes to private concessionaires working in and around the park. However, it is very typical for the state to contract private companies to provide services in the state parks, and I believe a communication and education program would work wonders to alleviate fears.
3 - How do you see the City of Ocala being able to help slow down water withdraws from the Floridan Aquifer?
The expanded utilization of Re-use water. Currently the city's re-use water supply is distributed primarily on spray fields and golf courses. Anytime there is new development and new water lines being installed, I would like to see accompanying re-use lines that may be used in the future for irrigation and other non-potable uses. This would insure that the water we draw from the aquifer is thoroughly put to use and not wasted.
In addition, I believe we can do better in teaching our citizens effective means of conservation. Many people believe that turning off the water while you brush your teeth makes a big impact, but I believe the biggest impact can be made with residential irrigation. The city has rain barrels that can be bought and used for residential irrigation, and we should probably do a better job of advertising and education.
4 - Do you believe that the City of Ocala can implement policies that could reduce nitrate runoff that impacts the water clarity of the River, and what would those policies be?
The City of Ocala is currently working to lower the nitrate levels from the Water Treatment Plant #2 to the Advanced standards. WRF #2 is located most closely to the Silver Springs on the east side of town. We can also continue working with residents who live closest to the Springs to have them connect to the City's water and sewer system and help eliminate septic systems.
5 - How can the City of Ocala contribute to the revitalization of the Silver Springs State Park and the surrounding areas?
I am a firm believer that when one area of our city or county succeeds, we all become better. The City and the City Council all want to see the Silver Springs State Park become a successful beautiful place to go and take our guests and visitors, and I believe the City stands willing to assist the Silver Springs Alliance whenever possible.