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Wessell Park renovations get underway
9 years of effort leads to makeover
A crew from Simpson Trucking and Grading Inc. rolls chain link fencing across the tennis courts at Wessell Park to be removed during as renovations begin Tuesday morning at the Gainesville park. Major renovations will continue.

Renovations of Wessell Park, including replacing existing tennis and basketball courts with new ones and building landscaping walls to prevent erosion, began Tuesday.

The replacement of the courts, along with the demolition of the Historic Green Street Pool, is Phase 1 of Gainesville Parks and Recreation’s plan to upgrade the city’s parks, according to Deputy Director Michael Graham.

Wessell Park currently has two tennis courts and one basketball court. These will be demolished and graded so that a regulation-sized tennis court and basketball court can be built.

The work is planned to take roughly two months.

The dirt from the grading of the park will be used to fill in the pool, which is to be converted to green space, Graham said.

These renovations are the result of nine years of effort to give Wessell Park a new face.

“Back in 2004, we held public meetings on renovating Wessell Park in which we developed a concept that would cost roughly $1.6 million,” said Graham. “That concept fell through when the recession hit.”

“As time went on, we looked at Wessell and it became clear that something had to be done,” Graham continued. “So we are trying to take baby steps. The things that need the most attention are the athletic courts.”

The demolition of the Historic Green Street Pool was added to Phase 1 to save money. The pool, which has been vacant for more than 5 years, will be filled and grass will be planted with further renovations planned.

“We’re hoping to renovate the pool house and restrooms as well as add pavilions, grills and a walkway down to Bobby Gruhn Field,” Graham said.

The pool itself was built in the 1930s as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration, according to park records, and remained open for nearly 80 years.

In 2008, the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center opened with two indoor pools and an outdoor pool equipped with water slides. The Green Street Pool was rendered obsolete and closed the same year.

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