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In the Lake City Reporter, May 31, 2017, we see that Rum Island Park will not likely get much-needed restrooms any time soon.  Just this past weekend the park was closed to vehicles because there was simply no more room to park.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life:  once taken, it cannot be brought back-


Rum Island restrooms on TaxWatch ‘Turkey’ list


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The Rum Island restroom construction project gave Columbia County a “turkey” of its own in this year’s

state budget, according a Florida Tax Watch report. Ever y year, Tax Watch releases its Budget Turkey Watch Report, an analysis of the transparency and accountability of the state budgeting process.


Tax Watch looks for “turkeys,” items that are added to the appropriations bill — usually for local projects — that circumvent the established competitive review process. An item being designated a “turkey” is not necessarily a comment on its value of worth, according to Tax Watch Vice President of Research Kurt Wenner.


He said it is simply a comment on whether the appropriation received proper scrutiny or adhered

to established review and selection processes. The $150,000 Rum Island restroom construction project found its way into Tax Watch’s report because it bypassed the established competitive process specific to that type of project, Wenner said.

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Every  year, the Department of Environmental Protection reviews and ranks hundreds of local park grant

applications and submits the approved projects to the State Legislature in its bud-get request.

This year, the House and Senate budgets each had $3-5 million for these types of grants, but the

funding was removed from the budget.


Wenner said it was replaced with a handful of local parks projects that were not vetted through the DEP’s funding process.

“That means they were funded over the hundreds of parks that submitted grants and followed the rules,” Wenner said in an email.

The Columbia County project would require about $150,000 to install new restrooms at Rum Island

Spring and Park, according to the report. “We are not calling replacing the restrooms at Rum

Island a waste of money or a bad project,” Wenner continued. “But there are questions as to whether

local projects that mostly benefit one area of the state should be funded when so many statewide needs are underfunded.”

Gov. Rick Scott can still veto line items in the bill.


  1. I used to go here as a kid when we were broke and it was too hot to walk anywhere else. This place was amazing and I have wonderful memories there. That was the best memory to have in High Springs. I am totally distraught about the thought of it being a dump now. I cannot believe people would just trash this wonderful place. I do recall the trash though and I would pick it up diapers and all with a trash bag in the evening after everyone disappeared. Because when your broke, hardly have gas, and practically homeless Rum Island was always the savior. I can’t believe it is that bad now. Glad there aren’t pictures posted. But you people as a community, it’s a free park. And as you used to love going there why not get together as a community and fix the issues yourself? Sign petitions, fight for your parks and wants, build your own bathrooms… get together as a community and save the parks. Very disappointed.

  2. It has really gone downhill over time. I’ve seen people keeping their raw chicken cold in the spring water. Plus I can’t stand the porta potties there. People don’t even bother with trying to make it in the hole. I’ve popped a squat between cars in the lot before because I’d rather splash a little on my own feet than catch some disease in there! Keep it free but keep it clean. Other counties do it why can’t we?

    1. Do it just for you!! Your furbaby will love it. I know I’m a stranger but sending you a smile


  4. Anybody up for starting a new local group? “Friends of Rum Island”…. to champion the free, public, Columbia County park. It needs friends that want to keep it safe and protected. Google Earth cannot even get the land map right! The “green” area actually runs along the riverfront for nearly 2 miles. It is a 44 acre park system.

  5. If people can afford to drive there, picnic there, pay for diapers that litter the place, gas for their boats, then they can afford to pay a modest entrance fee. It has become a real trash hole where humans defecate in the park and bring dogs that they don’t clean up after. The decent, responsible, near by residents clean up trash and litter left behind by (well what do we call them?, pigs?) People who can’t walk to the dumpster. We need to limit human use for the health of the park and for the decent folk who give a crap. Paying a buck a person to pay somebody to keep it clean would be something that anyone could afford.

  6. The fees will not go to keep it up. I feel they need to expand parking and the boat ramp to accommodate the people that want to enjoy the country we live in. Not everyone can afford to pay an entrance fee. Access should not be only for those who can afford it

  7. Keep Rum Island free.
    There is no reason to keep poor folks from enjoying our resources.

    We already pay enough taxes locally that keeping this part clean and updating the bathrooms should be possible.

    The city of High Springs just got a grant and spent over 100k on 2 new police cars. The money is there, it just needs to be aligned with our communities values.

  8. I like that Rum Island is one of the last few free places to hang out. Apparently a lot of other people do too because it is absolutely packed every single weekend. Also, if it becomes a pay park a lot of the canoe outfitters are either going to have to pony up the fee or their patrons are since it’s the only free place to unload for miles.

  9. Taylor County has a Park at Ecofina that charges on an honor system, not only do they have nice clean bathroom facilities, but they just totally remodeled them, and keep the entire park up, nicely! Why can’t we do it too?

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