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How you can provide input on Park Hill Drive area
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A rutted path shows signs of pedestrians traveling along the busy Park Hill Road in Gainesville. Gainesville planning officials are asking residents for input about pedestrians in the Park Hill and Riverside Drive areas. - photo by Nick Bowman

Gainesville officials are taking a close look at the area between the Gainesville Civic Center and Enota Drive, and they are seeking input from the community about improvements people would like to see.

A survey will be online through at least the rest of October, according to Mate Tate, deputy director of community and economic development with the city. 

The city is working with the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government to create a strategic plan that will cover the corridor along Riverside Drive, Morningside Drive, Park Hill Drive and U.S. 129, extending from the Civic Center to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens Gainesville.

The survey asks about pedestrian safety, local businesses, traffic and what improvements people hope can come to the area.

Rusty Ligon, the city’s economic and community development director, said the area has potential for development, and the city would like to have a plan for that growth.

“We think that area has historic value, and it is unique, but we need to create a vision for that area,” Ligon said. “We can enhance it somewhat from what it is now.”

Ligon said the area has seen some businesses leave, like the Zaxby’s that relocated from Riverside Drive to New Holland, but it is anchored by some newer businesses, like the pizza restaurant Sliced, and businesses with a history like Green’s Grocery and Inn-Between Deli.

The study comes ahead of some planned transportation projects in the area. The Georgia Department of Transportation is considering roundabouts on Green Street, one at Thompson Bridge Road and Riverside Drive, and another at Academy Street and E.E. Butler Parkway. The roundabouts are part of a $15 million set of improvements along Green Street, including a raised five-foot median. 

“We saw in this general area, some transportation improvements being considered, and we thought … let’s establish what’s the vision for this area and what improvements would we like to see so that we have something in place as these traffic studies conclude and they start making specific instructions about traffic improvements,” Ligon said.

Cpl. Jessica Van of the Gainesville Police Department said 10 accidents, all without injuries,were reported in the area between Oct. 1, 2018, and Oct. 1, 2019. They all occurred on Park Hill Drive, with seven of them at the intersection with Old Clarks Bridge Road. 

Any changes the city could make in the area, such as streetscaping, crosswalks and sidewalks could also motivate businesses to move in, Ligon said.

“Much like our philosophy with midtown, we want to make those strategic public investments to promote the private investment to follow,” he said.

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