August 2017 Innovate

City of Alachua Opens Legacy Park: A Place For All Generations


Written By: Laurel Swiderski

Alachua City Commissioners cut the ribbon alongside City Manager Traci Gresham, Mayor Gib Coerper, Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari, and all others who helped create Legacy Park.

 

“Truly, an amazing day.”

These words spoken by City Manager Traci Gresham were the common theme throughout the sunny day, as Legacy Park was unveiled to the citizens of Alachua. For many in the city, the ribbon cutting on June 14 was a hallmark and joyous experience.

The 40,000 square foot facility, completed for $7.5 million and located right across from the well-known Hal Brady Recreation Complex, is a part of a longstanding plan to bring a sense of home and opportunity to all members of the Alachua community, no matter the age or circumstance. Adam Boukari, Assistant City Manager and Project Manager for the facility, looked upon its completion as a fulfillment of this sentiment.

“Today is about celebrating the lives of generations,” he announced to the crowd in attendance. “It’s going to enlighten the hearts, minds and souls of people in this community.”

Boukari’s words echoed those of many in attendance who had watched the center transform from a dream into reality, none more so than the five Alachua City Commissioners selected who helped cut the ribbon. The five – Mayor Gib Coerper, Ben Boukari Jr., Shirley Green Brown, Gary Hardacre and Robert Wilford – all used their speeches at the event to reiterate Boukari’s feelings, along with expressing their thankfulness to all those involved in its creation.

“Generation after generation has been huge in making us successful,” said Mayor Coerper. “We thank this construction site, and Mother Nature for this beautiful and warm day. A true team effort”.

Ben Boukari Jr. furthered Mayor Coerper’s words, stating his thanks to “past commissioners, staff, and residents,” along with a clever joke inviting those in attendance to jump in the fountain just outside the complex to beat the heat. “Don’t actually do that,” he added to the laughter of the crowd.

The other three commissioners focused deeply on the facility’s focus on being a place not just for one specific group, but for any who wished to use it. Brown triumphantly stated that Legacy will be there “For all generations to come,” inviting people to “Be here, utilize the facility and love it.”

Attendees enjoying food and refreshments while mingling inside Legacy Park’s entryway.

Hardacre and Wilford stressed the significance of Legacy Park being not simply another sports building. Hardacre announced the building will take care of the city’s immediate needs and eventually grow even broader in its reach with its planned further phases, Wilford noted that the structure there currently serves “the whole community, not just our sports communities”.

The most poignant words of the day came from City Manager Traci Gresham, who spoke passionately about the impact she believes Legacy Park will have on the city of Alachua.

“It’s truly overwhelming when you get to the top of the hill and know the lives that will be changed because of [Legacy Park],” she spoke to the crowd. She went on to detail the facility’s long road to being built, detailing everything from the land purchasing in 2010 to the day phase one finished its two-year journey into existence.

When asked later about the day’s further significance, she said, “It’s truly an amazing milestone day in the city of Alachua’s history. Words can’t describe what this means to the city of Alachua and our future generations.”

After gifts being handed out to those responsible for the building’s creation and the speeches from Gresham, Boukari and the commissioners, Legacy Park’s ribbon was officially cut at promptly at 10:30 a.m. Multiple cheers erupted in front of the building, and all attendees were invited to explore the building while enjoying refreshments.

Inside, food and drinks decorated the tables, and the citizens of Alachua were welcome to explore rooms already being used by residents of the city. Santa Fe High School students showed off the large four-court basketball gym and the stage situated at the back of it. Their band and cheer team practiced, while their volleyball and basketball players partook in games nearby.

In the rooms outside of the gym, music and art setups were showcased to attendees. Building workers and other residents stood inside them and answered any questions about the rooms’ use, along with giving demonstrations. They essentially brought the rooms to life for all those who walked in.
While Legacy Park’s ribbon cutting has happened, the story for the facility is far from finished. The building is a part of a three-phase plan, which envisions walking trails, dog parks, tournament fields and more.

“Many people worked on this project, and it’s great to see it come to fruition,” Boukari proclaimed. “Make It Happen Man,” Wehbe Marketing founder Freddie Wehbe said near the conclusion of the event. “It’s safe, and it’s going to benefit so many people for years to come.”

“It’s truly an amazing milestone day in the city of Alachua’s history. Words can’t describe what this means to the city of Alachua and our future generations.”— Traci Gresham

Photography by Steffanie Crocket

 

LAUREL SWIDERSKI is a Sophomore Public Relations major in the Honors Program at the University of Florida. She is driven in her field by her love for building relations between communities and the companies than serve them. When she is not managing social media, she can be found writing stories, attending Florida Gator football games, or playing with her beloved dog, Bolt.

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