When Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the new state budget vetoing more than $1 billion worth of local projects and line items, one of those getting the ax was Inverness’ proposed connector trail between the Withlacoochee State Trail and Forest Drive through Whispering Pines Park.
The cost of the 1.25 mile project was predicted to be between $750,000 and $1 million with the state chipping in $200,000.
City Manager Eric Williams said he was not surprised that DeSantis pulled the plug on the state’s share of the funding, despite it being a worthy project.
“The revenue shortfalls (because of the coronavirus) are not known. That is a situation you have to be very careful with,” Williams said.
Had the pandemic not occurred, Williams said he was confident the project would not have been cut from the state budget.
He said he will try again.
“We will begin in earnest next fall (to get state approval),” he said.
The project got House and Senate support, which was encouraging and warranted another try, he said.
The state had an interest in the project because it connects to the state-owned Withlacoochee State Trail, connects to a high-density area in Inverness, and creates a multi-model transit facility, Williams said.
Williams said the city could go it alone and move forward with the project without state help, but the city is in the same financial predicament as the state and unsure about revenues.
The safe and better move would be to try and get state funding again next year, he said.