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New section of Gainesville's Midtown Greenway has opened
Work done as part of Flat Creek restoration
Heavy rains in February fill the newly diverted portion of Flat Creek as it flows toward the old Gainesville Mill.

Some final touches are still needed, but a section of Gainesville’s Midtown Greenway near the century-old Gainesville Mill is completed.

A concrete walkway around the mill’s old fire pond is now open.

“The only thing remaining is punch-list items,” said Horace Gee, Gainesville’s environmental services administrator. “Benches, trash cans, tables along the walkway are on order and should be here in a week or two.”

“I think (the project) has turned out great,” he said.

For now, reaching the greenway is a little tricky because Marler Street north of the site has been closed for sewer line work.

“And the fence ... along Marler Street has only been gone a week now,” Gee said last week. “I don’t think people realize it’s been opened up.”

Marler could be repaved in the next month.

“That’s when I think (activity) will really pick up (on the greenway),” Gee said. “People will start to see it and (newly planted) grass will be growing.”

The Midtown Greenway, intended as an urban path for pedestrians and bicyclists, runs from south of Jesse Jewell Parkway/Ga. 369 to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Grove and Pine streets.

The city is working on a phase that would involve trail construction from MLK to Industrial Boulevard.

The project “is in preliminary engineering/design right now,” said Jessica Tullar, special projects manager for Gainesville.

In December, the city applied for a $100,000 grant for construction materials to build a section from Queen City Parkway to Palmour Drive, where a Hall County trail picks up and leads to the Georgia Department of Labor office off Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13.

“We should hear something back on that application this spring, perhaps May or June,” Tullar said.

The Midtown Greenway section near the old Gainesville Mill is more than just a beautification effort.

The $1 million project’s main function was to help improve Flat Creek, a long-troubled largely urban waterway that runs from the heart of Gainesville to West Hall County, where it empties into Lake Lanier.

The work involved rechanneling Flat Creek and removing old concrete streambed.

Officials have said they hope the work will not only improve the area’s appearance but provide better flood control and improve water quality.

The project has drawn praise from at least one environmental watchdog group, the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, which operates one of its Neighborhood Water Watch sites off Georgia Avenue, just downstream of the project area.

“The long-term goals of reducing peak flows and improving aquatic habitat are worthy,” the group’s former headwaters outreach director, Duncan Hughes, has said.

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