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Ziplines, lazy river and new trails could be coming to Clay County as part of tourism push

Recommendations include an amateur sports complex that would incorporate unique events as well as an outdoor adventure area.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Deanna Sprinkle has lived in Clay County on and off since the 80s, and says the area keeps drawing her back. 

“There’s a lot more traffic a lot more people, but you still have the small areas off the main road that are still like they use to be, and it's just really nice, and it's really a family friendly county there’s so much to do," said Sprinkle. 

Clay County Commissioner Mike Cella says an outside company is surveying residents with the intent of bringing more tourism to the county.

The survey asks what kind of projects residents would like to see, but Cella says maintaining the small-town feel will be top of mind.

“Well that’s one of the interesting things about the study is they said we shouldn’t lose that, we should strive to keep the small town feeling as well as bringing some of these things," said Cella. 

The county hired Conventions Sports and Leisure International (CSL), a company that is helping the county with a Tourism Strategic plan.

CSL surveyed 500 residents and interviewed more than 50 local stakeholders to see how they viewed tourism in the county.

Cella says just in Clay County they get about $218 million dollars a year of impact from tourists.

"One of the things that I think was the big stand-out seems to be the most popular with everybody is the long term visioning because those are really the sexy items, it’s the entertainment district and the convention center, those kinds of things," said Cella. 

CSL had several recommendations such as an amateur sports complex that would incorporate unique events as well as an outdoor adventure area that could include bike trails, a zipline course and lazy river.

Some residents wanted to see more arts and culture. CSL says some ideas included a Southern Rock Hall of Fame, more public art, events and festivals.

Sprinkle says while new development may be needed she hopes the community is preserved.

“It could use a little bit but just don’t over do it because the nice quiet spots are still sought after by a lot of people," said Sprinkle. 

Cella says Nov. 7 they will have a meeting with the tourism department, and they will come up with tasks to implement some of the recommendation they were given.

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