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What's allowing county to move forward on turning Athens Street land into Butler park
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Land the county owns behind the Hall County Health Department and the Butler Center property off Athens Street will finally become a park thanks to a federal grant and county SPLOST money. - photo by Scott Rogers

A park on Athens Street in Gainesville has received more than $600,000 in grant funding from the National Park Service, allowing Hall County to move forward with plans for the area that officials say has long needed more recreational opportunities.

Butler Park will be located at 1280 Athens St. near the Hall County Health Department and will have a playground, a pavilion and restrooms, a basketball court, a splash pad and trails. 

Hall County has set aside $250,000 in special purpose local option sales tax revenue to match the $633,231 federal grant. The project had been on hold while the county waited to hear about the grant, which came with a condition that the county would need to hold off on spending its money until getting an answer from the park service.

In October, Commissioner Jeff Stowe, whose district includes the property, asked county officials to write a letter to the park service, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Gov. Brian Kemp asking permission for the county to start work at the park. Collins wrote his own letter to the park service in support of the request.

Stowe said in October that the south Gainesville area is in need of a new park.

“It’s an area that a lot of residents live at, where they can walk and enjoy that park. Now, it’s multiple miles (to a park). It’s the right thing,” Stowe said. “That community has been overlooked for a long, long time. There’s been multiple promises for parks in the past, and we’ve been working on this for quite a while.”

The 13-acre park includes five acres donated by Fieldale Farms, and Rochester & Associates of Gainesville designed the park for free.