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Jackson County looking to expand recreational areas Featured

Commissioner Eric Hill, Robert Douthitt and County Administrator Ernie Padgett  Commissioner Eric Hill, Robert Douthitt and County Administrator Ernie Padgett  Shelia Mader | TIMES

Jackson County Commissioner Eric Hill, District 4, has been looking at the prospect of providing more recreational facilities, camping, and outdoor activities for children and families for some time. He is making progress on his forward thinking with some property in Sneads. He is looking to enhance port landing.

Hill said the property referred to as the Old Port Authority was purchased back in January of 2017.  Hill says, “Commissioner Stephens (Kenneth) actually helped facilitate this when he was in office. This started July of 2016 and we closed on this the first week January of 2017.”

Hill said the county crews had been out at the property for about two months and were making headway, “We’ve got Brian Bairwood from Melvin Engineering to make sure that all the wetlands were preserved. We will have a nature trail and Robert (Douthitt) already has it cleared out for a small path. It’s going to be a walk path and kind of arch. We can’t mess with that over there because it’s the flood plains. We will have picnic tables out there, and we will have some camping out here, some primitive and some pull through. We will eventually try to have a park host. People don’t fish here, this is the only access to the river unless you go through the dam. The problem is you have people coming here, putting their boat in. There may not be but five cars a day and their cars get vandalized. We want a camp host down here to watch over it and give it some security to the people that come here, that at least someone is watching their boats and stuff.”

When asked about having slides and recreational equipment Commissioner Hill responded, “We’re not sure, because this area floods. The railroad track that you come over back there, there’s been water there before. We’re not exactly sure what all we will be able to have here. We’d like to do some type of activity stuff, and if we do, it’s got to be made to where it can survive floods.”

Hill said eventually they would like to have eight drive-thru and pull thru RV camps. He said they would like to have primitive camping for tents, and to have a wash off here. Hill said, “The thing we have to overcome and Robert’s very familiar with this is, we’d like to have a wash house here. We can’t have bathrooms down here because of the septic tanks and flood plain. We could probably put a dump station there if D.E.P. will let us. It’s up to them, we shouldn’t have a problem, just have something to where they can empty their RV Parks on the way out with their waste water. We’d like to have shower houses, water, lighting and things like that. We just want to make sure this is known and again this is the only access to the river and we’ve required the easement going through the property. The water in there is privately owned. They can’t even come off the river and fish in there either. That’s enforced by Florida Wildlife Conservation (FWC). It’s the only access to the river on the Jackson County side. They can launch boats and come and go they just can’t fish in the basin. His plan was to develop all of this. On the old port side, he’s got a big cabin, and all that stuff. His plans were to put campers up there and floating homes here. Now he’s sold this to us and he’s going to sell everything else. We have approximately eight acres. $120,000-$125,000 ball park price for the property. I got with Robert and Larry and we designed all this.”

Hill is realistic that it is in the early stages but is confident this will be a great improvement to the area and provide family recreation for Jackson County residents.

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