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Like to walk, bike, splash or play? This is what Gainesville has in store for you
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The Highlands to Islands Trail in Gainesville is pictured Monday, July 2, 2018. - photo by David Barnes

Gainesville could get an outdoor pool, more splash pads, a dog park, more trails and some upgrades to existing parks.

A new master plan for Gainesville Parks and Recreation lays out some ideas for the next 10 years based on community input and an inventory of current facilities.

The study includes results of a survey taken by about 1,500 people, input from a public meeting, and interviews with city officials and community members.

Gainesville Parks and Recreation worked with the Norcross-based Foresite Group on the study, which took about a year.

The top request among survey takers lines up with a national trend. The highest amount of survey takers, at 65%, said they want to see more hiking and walking trails, and 51% requested biking multi-use trails. The fourth most popular item was greenways, with 40% of survey takers asking for those.

The study uses National Recreation and Park Association standards as a guideline and considers population growth in the city. Planners recommend that the city add 20 miles of natural trails, 20 miles of greenway paths and eight miles of mountain bike trails.

“Nationally, that’s the No. 1 thing — trail connectivity, and people want to be able to walk to a park, and walk to businesses, walk to restaurants,” Parks Director Kate Mattison said.

The master plan includes a covered stage, playground and a splash pad along the Midtown Greenway. Engine 209, the historic train currently the center of a city park off Jesse Jewell Parkway, could also be relocated along the greenway.

The city is already building a skate park along the Midtown Greenway, too. That is scheduled to be ready this spring.

Another goal is to make it easier for people to walk or bike to a park. About 30% of city residents live within a half mile of a park or greenspace, which is considered a walkable distance. Every city residence is within three miles of a park, which is the standard for biking.

“There is a need to connect parks and greenspace to the community through a comprehensive system of sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes, bike paths, greenways, and natural trails,” according to the report.

The plan also calls for some additional space for sports, including six multipurpose fields. The Gainesville City Council has already voted to acquire 89 acres off Old Cornelia Highway for a youth sports complex, which will have fields for baseball, softball, football, soccer and lacrosse, along with playgrounds, a pavilion and trails. An additional sports complex could also be needed, according to the study. 

Other plans include some improvements at Green Street Park, such as a small splash pad and space for food trucks to park during events. 

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A rendering shows plans for Green Street Park upgrades.
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Improvements at Green Street Park, the former site of Green Street Pool, is part of the Gainesville Parks and Recreation recently finished master plan, which will guide the department over the next decade. - photo by Scott Rogers

Longwood Park could get an updated pavilion and walking path and a 50,000-square-foot festival space that could hold events, such as the city’s annual Spring Chicken Festival that relocated to the park last year.

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A rendering shows plans for Longwood Park.

The plan highlights goals for the next five years and the next 10 years. By 2025, the city hopes to design and build a sports complex in northeast or south Gainesville, improve trail connectivity, renovate Green Street Park and build a dog park, though a location for that has not been determined. By 2030, the city hopes to improve access to Lake Lanier, focus on community gathering spaces and events, and plan for a new recreation center in south or northeast Gainesville. Indoor gym space is especially needed, Mattison said.

The full report is available on the city website.

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