It’s been a decade since residents have been able to enjoy the amenities of Hall County’s Murrayville and Tadmore parks.
Closed due to budgetary cuts in 2011, Murrayville Park located on Bark Camp Road, is set to reopen this summer, according to Assistant County Administrator Marty Nix.
“We’re excited to reopen Murrayville Park later this summer, and it’s been a long time since we had to close it down following the recession,” Nix said. “In the decade since, we made it a point to continue making progress on it. So it’s exciting to reopen the park this summer.”
The park’s new and refurbished amenities include a playground, pavilion, repaved pathways and re-leveled ballfields.
Murrayville Park isn’t the only park scheduled for a 2021 reopening.
Tadmore Park on Gillsville Highway is also slated to reopen and be “fully functional” this fall, according to Nix. Also a victim of the county’s 2011 budgetary cuts, Tadmore Park had been open for occasional events, but access to the park area itself was closed.
Nix said Tadmore Park will feature new restrooms, a new park layout and major improvements to its ballfields.
“This is a park that’s really important to the surrounding area and there was an impact when it was closed,” said Nix.
Nix said Tadmore Park’s reopening will add to a revitalized Gillsville Highway area that will also see a new Fire Station 1 facility open right next to the park this fall.
Progress could soon be made on Athens Street’s 13-acre Butler Park once a $633,231 grant from the National Park Service and subsequent permits are finalized.
Those funds will be matched by $250,000 in special purpose local option sales tax revenues from the county.
Amenities will include a pavilion, walking trails, a basketball court and a multi-use field.
In the 2021 State of the County address, District 4 County Commissioner Jeff Stowe said the county hoped to break ground on the park soon once all the necessary documentation and permitting is done. A ribbon-cutting could proceed 9-12 months afterward.
Finally, there’s continued momentum for a 100-acre park surrounding East Hall’s Healan’s Head’s Mill.
On March 8, a 61-page master plan for the site was unveiled and a schematic of the park featured amenities such as the last-standing grist mill at the site, dam and sluice gate, blacksmith shop and garage, corn crib, lone standing brick chimney, and an old barn and outhouse.
“That master plan gives us a great roadmap to eventually proceed with the buildout of that park (in East Hall),” said Nix. “We see this project as an opportunity to attract not only our residents but also visitors who are looking for great greenspace in the county.”
Gainesville, meanwhile, has big plans for its Midland Greenway area.
The project will include the installation of a new plaza paver with amenities such as a playground and possibly a splash pad installed at the intersection of Grove and Davis streets, a section known as “the Wye”.
According to Mattison, the design and permitting process for the project are completed and construction could begin in May, contingent on a bidding process in April.
“We identified that spot as a great place for a playground and areas for new picnic spots,” said Mattison.
The second phase of renovations could also take place during the next fiscal year, with improvements to the park’s 682 Grove St. entrance.
According to Mattison, details for the second phase of improvements have not been finalized, however, a large-scale ADA-compliant playground has been discussed.
“The next phase is funded in (fiscal year 2022) and we will get into the design and development phase beginning in July,” Mattison said.
Other possibilities include improved parking and accessibility and exploring options to improve shading in the area for the hot summer months.
Another parks and recreation project in development is the 89-acre J. Melvin Cooper Youth Sports Complex, nicknamed “The Coop,” at 2490 Old Cornelia Highway.
The park is dedicated to longtime city parks director Melvin Cooper, who spent 47 years with Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department before retiring in 2019.
Plans for the complex include six baseball fields, batting cages, a playground and pavilion, trails, and two fields that could be used for football, soccer or lacrosse.
“We are about 90% complete with design, hopeful that we will go to bid on the project in late 2021 and begin construction, but it will not open this year,” Mattison said.
Mattison said all city parks are open to the public in accordance with COVID-19 recommendations from the governor’s office.
“We are open, everything is open but there are restrictions in place,” said Mattison. “Our parks were loved to death prior to the pandemic, and we are excited to welcome residents back while ensuring everyone’s safety.”