July 26, 2022 

Contact:  Levi Solomon,, 352-406-6628

Allison Baltzersen,, 305-393-7806

Michael McGrath,, 386-341-4708



Every Corner of Sumter Joins Forces to Defeat Turnpike Threat

The Villages—On Tuesday, July 26, the Sumter County Board of Commissioners meeting was once again the scene of unprecedented local organizing across neighborhoods, political lines, generations, and business interests when No Roads to Ruin activists from Royal, Tillman’s Hammock, Oxford, Wildwood, The Villages, and beyond gathered to demand that their elected commissioners represent the interests of those in danger of being run over by a Northern Turnpike Extension.  A press conference and a “No Build” activist-filled commission chamber marked the occasion.

Speakers at the press conference represented communities directly impacted by any route of the proposed Northern Turnpike Extension:

Royal resident Kathy Towns said:  “I am a proud resident of the beautiful community of Royal, Florida, thriving on the land passed down from my ancestors. This Turnpike Extension would destroy our community’s history and future. It needs to be stopped, which is why I’m for the ‘No Build’ option.” 

Another longtime Royal resident Levi Solomon stated “The community Royal has a great history but in 1964, I-75 split our community in half. The Turnpike Extension will further dissect our community.  Lives will be changed forever, again! We are a community that loves and supports each other.  The peace and joy that we know now will be no more.  Families will be split, churches over 100 years old, a Cemetery, and farms–all will be dismantled. These are some of the reasons I’m asking the Sumter County Commission to support the ‘No Build’ Resolution.”

Tillman’s Hammock resident Rick Stagg said:  “Tillman’s Hammock way of life is being threatened by the new proposed turnpike extension plan.  Multiple generations have worked and tolled to build their homesteads.  This may all be taken away from us which is why we are fighting for the ‘No Build’ option.  It’s time our County Commissioners and state leaders listened and represented us,” while another Tillman’s Hammock resident, Allison Baltzersen added “The Citrus and Levy county commissions have already sent ‘No Build’ resolutions to FDOT and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, saying ‘no’ to the turnpike extension in their counties.  It is time for Sumter to do the same.” 

A crowd of 35 of “No Build-No Turnpike Extension” t-shirt donning, “Rural Florida Says No Toll Roads” and “No Build” sign waving Sumter County community leaders attended the press conference and then marched into the Commission chambers to make themselves heard, once again, during the public comment period, because like the last time No Roads to Ruin activists rallied at the Sumter County Commission meeting (on June 14), the Northern Turnpike Extension was not on the Commissioners’ agenda.  But that did not deter the “No Build” crowd of at least 120 Sumter voters from spelling out the ways any turnpike extension route would cleave through vulnerable communities and sensitive environmental lands, and sharing their dismay at the Commission’s failure, to date, to protect them by sending a clear “No Build” message to the Florida Turnpike Enterprise and Florida Department of Transportation.  The call was repeated over and over again for the Sumter Commissioners to pass their own No Build resolution, presented to the commissioners for the first time on June 14, versions of which have already adopted by the Levy Board of County Commissioners, Citrus Board of County Commissioners, Dunnellon City Council, Inverness City Council, Inglis Town Commission, and Yankeetown Council, in most if not all cases unanimously.

After nearly two hours of public comment, the Commissioners took no action, but County Administrator Bradley Arnold did share that during the M-CORES task force process, “95%” of public commenters were opposed to the new toll roads. 

What should have been a simple exercise of the rights of Sumter residents to voice their concerns, became a drama the day before, when after having offered a room in the Everglades Regional Recreation Center for the press conference the week before, the Recreation & Parks Department of The Villages contacted the No Roads to Ruin Coalition on Monday and rescinded their room offer with little time to make new plans.  Michael McGrath, Sierra Club Organizing Representative, was told that although the Board of County Commissioners meets there, “the Everglades recreation center is a private building run by The Villages and as such, The Villages personnel may escort us off the premises if we don’t have a room reservation, and remove us from the parking lot, sidewalk, or entranceway if they consider us an impediment to traffic flow.”  When further conversation with department personnel did not result in a remedy, event organizers decided to hold the 20-minute press conference on the grassy area alongside the bocce courts and parking lot.  The ultimate reason for rescinding the offer of a meeting room was given as “the smaller rooms have already been reserved by Sumter County for overflow as they are expecting a large crowd to this meeting.”

McGrath said:  “After all that, those who showed up to the press conference were allowed to proceed without removal, but we will never know if the nonsense put a damper on attendance. What we know for sure is that it left a bad taste in the mouths of Sumter County voters who expect better from their county commissioners.” 


Press conference crowd photo, crowd photo close up, banner photo, Nix the NTE photo, Royal speaker video, Tillman’s Hammock speaker video

Commission chamber photo 

County Administrator Bradley Arnold audio clip following public comment.  

BACKGROUND:  In 2019, the bill creating the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, and while M-CORES was technically repealed in 2021, the threat of a proposed Northern Turnpike Extension remains.

In February, the Sumter Commission and Wildwood City Council jointly sent a letter petitioning Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise to modify the “Alternative Corridor Center” route to put it in close proximity to CR 475 North of SR 44 to CR 245E.  That action has been universally unpopular; any route emanating from the current endpoint of the Florida Turnpike would severely impact the communities of Royal, Wildwood, Tillman’s Hammock, and Oxford in Sumter County.  Go to the No Roads to Ruin Coalition website for more information. 


Read the PDF of the press release here.