State officials hold meeting to discuss potential takeover of Silver Springs

Updated:

Loading
OCALA, Fla. —

State officials held a meeting Wednesday in Ocala to discuss potentially taking over Silver Springs.

The attraction is one of central Florida's oldest tourist attractions and the state is looking into taking it over and turning it into a state park.

"I really think something needs to be done out there. I don't think it's as good as it used to be," said visitor Judy Dunn.

The state owns the land Silver Springs sits on, but a private company runs the attraction.

"State parks are run beautifully. The state park system has won national awards for the best in the country. They know how to do it," said environmentalist Guy Marwick.

Marwick said water quality in the springs has suffered over the last few decades and he wants the state to take over.

California-based Palace Entertainment has a lease to run the attraction through 2029.

Operators told WFTV they care passionately for the park and its animals. In a statement they said, "We will always keep an open mind about what may be the best long-term interest of the park, the surrounding community and the state of Florida in general."

Many visitors believe the water is just as crystal clear as ever.

Dunn doesn't like the idea of the state running the attraction.

The state never does anything right, so why would we want to take it over and waste taxpayer money?" Dunn asked.