Park projects go full bore

The City of Gainesville is hard at work, improving and adding to our beautiful city’s wild spaces and public places! We’re looking forward to being able to enjoy some of these parks just in time for cooler weather. eda is glad to be on these project teams. Read more in the Gainesville Sun.

Gainesville, Florida -The county’s first land purchase using the 2016 Wild Spaces Public Places tax funds — Four Creeks Preserve— recently opened, and other projects fueled by the tax dollars are underway.

Numerous parks and trails sprinkled throughout the region are slated to undergo renovation in the coming months, and some plans could close down park access to visitors for a while.

“We have some good stuff coming in the future,” said Betsy Waite, Gainesville’s Wild Spaces Public Places director.

The tax, approved for eight years, has generated $15 million from taxpayers for Gainesville, and $23 million for Alachua County since its 2016 approval.

Under construction

Since April, Fred Cone Park on east University Avenue has been closed. The space is undergoing much-needed drainage and turf improvements, as the field was deemed unusable after a bout of rainfall. The park is expected to open in early November.

Construction on Reserve Park, at Northeast 11th Street, is expected to be finished this winter. The space will have new play equipment, traveling rings, an obstacle course, picnic areas, a pavilion and a fenced community garden.

Northside Park, adjacent to the Senior Recreation Center along Northwest 34th Boulevard, is on track to have 40 new parking spaces and an all-ages playground. The area is under construction to make way for a new walking path, pavilion, shaded seats and outdoor exercise equipment.

The Hartman House at Hogtown Creek Headwaters Nature Park is also under construction. The 1910 house will be renovated and transformed into a nature center.

Under the county’s purview, Turkey Creek Preserve is waiting on the completion of a parking area and installation of equipment for a fitness trail.

Coming down the pipeline

Drainage issues at Lincoln Middle and Williams Elementary Schools’ sports fields are expected to be tackled later this month. Both schools’ soccer and recreation fields have flooding issues, and are open to the public when not in use by the school.

The first week of December, damaged brick pavers at Bo Diddley Plaza will be replaced to make the plaza ADA compliant.

The Kiwanis Girl Scout Park — now Oakview Park — is awaiting permit approval before ground breaks for a modern playground, a lighted path and parking. The park is along Northwest Eighth Avenue.

Construction at Unity Park, on Northeast 31st Avenue, is also waiting for permitting. The project, which includes two new basketball courts, a community garden and modern playground equipment, is expected to begin in December.

Upgrades at Squirrel Ridge Park on southwest Williston Road were just approved by the Alachua County Commission. The park’s play structure has been removed and is waiting to be replaced, and the latest approved features will require permitting — which county officials say could take three to six months. The construction would close off areas of the park.

The county has slotted $5.4 million of Wild Spaces Public Places funding for projects beginning next year, including the Rotary Park in Jonesville, Veterans Memorial Park, Poe Springs Park, Cynthia Moore Chestnut Park, Santa Fe Lake Park, Monteocha Park, Earl P. Powers Park and Cellon Oak Park.

Thursday, Wild Spaces officials will ask the Gainesville City Commission for $2 million of the tax funds for smaller projects. The list includes interpretive displays at the Hartman House, drainage at Lincoln Park, ADA improvements at Bo Diddley Plaza, renovations of Flatwoods Conservation Area Trailhead, replacing the bridge at Northside Park’s disc golf course, reconstruction of the T.B. McPherson Tennis Courts, pavilion roof replacements and improvements to the track at Howard Bishop Middle School.