Residents sent multiple letters to Ocala-News.com to vehemently argue against any development in Silver Springs and Ocala National Forest, citing a need to preserve wildlife and the history of the area.
“I moved to the Ocala National Forest 18 years ago because it did not have the big box stores. This area out here on highway 40 is called the Black Bear Scenic highway because this is a place for wildlife, such as bear, possum, deer, rabbits, and more. We are known for our multiple parks and springs, scenic wildlife with camping, and lots of trees. This is a special place. Please don’t ruin it for the convenience of being able to go next door to buy a Twinkie or toilet paper. Especially, when we can have deliveries of anything we want shipped to our front door,” says Linda Lou Johnson, a resident of Silver Springs.
Some newer residents say they moved to the area to get away from the hustle and bustle of multiple other cities across the state.
“When I moved to Tampa it was nowhere near the size it exploded to. I left Fort Lauderdale for that. So I moved here to get away from the crowds, the businesses that pop up, fold, and become a concrete reminder of what it took away. I came for the peace and the quiet living. If people can’t drive 7 miles to eat out, move back from where you came. If Ocala keeps growing like it is, sure enough I’ll be living my nightmare all over again,” says Ocala resident Margie Tagmeyer. Tagmeyer fears that with growth will come “crime, litter, and traffic.”
Clint Blakey says that those who were raised in the forest “certainly don’t want to see our Florida forest trashed all up with more retail or big box stores.” Blakey says that The Villages is an example of what can happen when an area becomes overdeveloped. He says that the only thing the community could use is roadway improvements.
Others were simple in their opinions.
“If you don’t like it in there, move! Makes sense rather than complain” says Owen Shelton of Ocala.
“Why don’t people leave us alone out here in the forest? We like this way, that is why we live here,” says Jan Caldwell of Ocklawaha.
Although the vast majority of letters and hundreds of comments were in favor of preservation, still some saw the need to call for change.
“I live in Salt Springs. It is frustrating that any routine errands take a 30+ minute drive. Doctor appointments, dentist, etc. grocery shopping, dining out. I am currently seeing a physical therapist 3 days a week, for 30 minute sessions. I drive to Ocala 34 miles each way. The time spent in traffic and cost of gas is very hard on me as I drive an older car and live on social security. It would be wonderful to have many necessities closer,” says Anita Duren.
Do you have thoughts that you’d like to share on the potential for future development in the Silver Springs or Ocala National Forest areas? Share your thoughts in a letter to the editor.