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Southside community wants sidewalks, park

Residents schedule meeting to present concerns to officials

POSTED: April 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

Pedestrians walk along Athens Street Thursday afternoon. Many places along the shoulder of the street have a path worn by pedestrian traffic. A Saturday meeting of the Concerned Citizens of Gainesville-Hall County will discuss the lack of sidewalks and other issues on Gainesville's Southside community.

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They want answers.

Residents from the Southside neighborhood have called a special meeting to present their community’s concerns to local officials.

The Concerned Citizens of Gainesville-Hall County Southside Community have called the meeting to share concerns about a number of issues — from a lack of sidewalks to a need for speed tables — with government officials.

Teffeny Pierce, vice president of the Southside neighborhood group, said there are certain amenities that are essential to the community’s quality of life that have not been addressed by the local government.

In short, the group wants a park, sidewalks, a grocery store, speed tables and adequate water pressure. The group questions why these amenities have not come to the Southside community, which stretches from Fair Street Elementary School to Floyd Road, and they want answers from local officials.

They have invited Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras, Hall County Commissioner Deborah Mack, the Department of Transportation, officials from Gainesville’s Public Utilities Department and public safety officials from the city and the county.

Chief among the group’s concerns is the construction of a park that they thought would be built after the Hall County government received federal funds to build parks across the county.

"The south side of the county has been granted funds for that (park), but has not been given the land or the property, and it has not been built," Pierce said.

Pierce said he thought the Southside park should have been built at the same time as the Sardis Park and the East Hall Park, but it was not.

"Every time we ask about the park (we) have been told that they don’t have the land, but there’s land around in the area for the Southside to have it, and we just don’t understand why it’s not been granted," Pierce said.

Pierce said it is important for the community to have a local recreation facility, instead of having to travel to other recreation facilities.

"(The people) want something local in their community," Pierce said.

The community group also wants the county to improve the roads in the district, namely Floyd Road and Brown Street.

"No sidewalks have ever been developed in those areas," Pierce said. "The roads need to be widened, there’s only certain lights in certain areas ... there’s been numerous accidents in the curves, because people have swerved off the road from hitting people."

Pierce said the roads in the district have plenty of pedestrian traffic, but no sidewalks.

"We want to make sure that those people have a safe haven to be able to walk, really without having to worry about getting hit," Pierce said.

The community group also wants more police presence so the people in the community feel safe in their homes, Pierce said.

"The city has a precinct in the Harrison Square Apartments, but the county has nothing from that point to show that (its) presence is commonly there," Pierce said.

"People want to feel safe at night ... when you constantly have no police presence that always leaves room for trouble to occur," Pierce said.

The community group wants to make the Southside area more "family friendly," Pierce said, and that means adding a grocery store, restaurants and doctors’ offices.

"You know, they’re doing a redevelopment on (Black and Cooley drives), but why not take it further on out?" Pierce said.

Local officials will have a chance to respond to the community’s concerns at the special called meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday in the E.E. Butler Center on Athens Street.

The Concerned Citizens group usually meets on the second Tuesday of every month, but called a special meeting so that local officials could address their concerns. The 300-member group formed in 2007 to share ideas and concerns about the Southside community’s quality of life.



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