Gainesville officials are embracing a $2.8 million watershed improvement project in midtown Gainesville that also promises to enhance the Midtown Greenway trail and eliminate blight.
Department of Water Resources officials pitched the project at a city council work session Tuesday. It calls for the purchase of eight parcels of properties below Parker Street and Grove Street adjacent to a section of the Midtown Greenway.
Water Resources Director Linda MacGregor said the multifaceted benefits to the community would come by building a large detention pond that eliminates blighted properties identified within the midtown redevelopment area, improving water quality and at the same time enhancing the greenway.
“It will be a pond with another walkway around it,” MacGregor said. ““It will be an amenity on the greenway.”
Water Resources official Horace Gee said the project “came on the radar” late last year when the state updated the city’s watershed improvement plan. He said the project would tie to the headwaters that flow into Flat Creek.
Gee said there will be enough capacity in the detention pond that it could be used by any new development in the area that requires stormwater. He said that would eliminate developers building their own “ugly ponds.”
“We’ve got enough stormwater capacity in this pond to sell back to those developers,” Gee said.
“We can recover some of our expenses.”
Gee said purchasing the properties is the key to making the Midtown Greenway project work.
“To make all this come together we really need all eight parcels,” he said. “That way we can make the pond big enough and have enough storage available.”
MacGregor said funding for the Midtown Greenway project, as well as a $2.3 million Flat Creek ecosystem restoration project to be done in tandem with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will come from the department’s capital improvement fund used for watershed projects.
Gee said the city is a 35 percent sponsor of the Flat Creek project, and its share of the cost is $834,000.
“It’s going to be a great project,” Mayor Danny Dunagan said. “I think this is a no-brainer.”
Council placed resolutions defining both projects on the consent agenda for its regular Tuesday meeting.