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Landmark Depot Park’s Final Phase Begins


Written By: Chris Eversole

Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy put it clearly in describing the completion of the reclamation of the contaminated site that is becoming Depot Park:

“What once was an obscure scar is becoming Gainesville’s Central Park,” he said.

Braddy was among the stakeholders who spoke Wednesday (Sept. 2) at the groundbreaking for the construction of park facilities planned as the cornerstone of South Main Street redevelopment.

The $5.9 millions park construction projected – scheduled for completion with one year – will include boardwalks, walking trails and a playground the size of a football field.

Speakers at the event celebrated nearly two decades of work by a multitude of people –

elected officials, city and county workers, community volunteers, representatives of state and federal agencies and employee of contractors.

The project started with the need to remove toxic tar that the Gainesville Gas Co. had deposited on the site – a byproduct of superheating coal to extract natural gas.

The contamination became GRU’s problem when the city bought the gas company, City Manager Russ Blackburn said. “GRU removed thousands of tons of earth 70 feet deep,” he said.

The project’s goal was to improve drainage and increase the water quality – by funneling storm water to the large pond that has been constructed at Depot Park, Blackburn noted.

The park itself is the icing on the cake, creating a space for the community to enjoy, Blackburn said.

In addition, the restored 19th century train depot at the park will provide a place for dining and events, noted Sarah Vidal-Finn, the interim director of the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency.

The CRA will be seeking interested restaurants and other businesses to operate in the depot. “It will be a huge amenity for park-goers and the community at large,” Vidal-Finn said.

Finally, Depot Park will serve as the home of the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention.

Braddy addressed students from the Caring and Sharing Learning School, who represented the next generation at the event, saying: “We do these things for you and the rest of the community.”

 

 

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