Runners, residents and members of the Hall County government were present Saturday morning at the grand opening of a new trail near the heart of downtown Gainesville, also known as the Midtown Greenway.
The opening of this 12-foot-wide trail, Phase 1 of the greenway project, runs along an old CSX railway from Mule Camp Springs to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
It is the city’s first step in midtown toward a trail residents can follow from the lake on the other side of downtown at Longwood Park to Aviation Boulevard. From there, they may be able to walk along another county-funded trail.
The stream alongside it is part of a project to restore Flat Creek, which has for years been diverted through pipes.
City officials removed about 150 feet of box culvert this year, adding to the total of about 1,100 linear feet of the creek that has been restored in midtown below Banks Street.
The old CSX maintenance yard is expected to be a feature on the trail.
Andrew Morrison and girlfriend Andreea Neculae were both present to watch Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan officially open the greenway after the Spring Chicken Festival 5K released runners from the starting line, also on the greenway trail.
“Everyone’s been really receptive, and the local community is really happy to have it here,” Morrison said of the greenway, a project he helped work on as an employee of CH2M Hill who helped with the design and stream restoration work.
Like many others out Saturday morning, Morrison and Neculae said they planned on walking around the trails.
Myrtle Figueras, a City Council member for Gainesville, looked out at the greenway and excitedly exclaimed, “What a joy it is to see this beauty!”
Figueras explained how the area used to be in such a different condition and that a lot of work went into the greenway’s making.
Upon the grand opening of the finished Phase 1, she stated, “This is all so beautiful, it was worth the wait.”