Tuesday May 28th, 2024 4:01AM

Midland Greenway improvements set to wrap up in time for July celebration

By Christian Ashliman Anchor/Reporter

Gainesville's Midland Greenway is set to wrap up major improvements by July, accompanied by the 100th anniversary of the city's parks and recreation department.

In what has been a multi-phase project, the city has been making improvements to the Midland Greenway for the past three years, according to Parks and Recreation Director Kate Mattison.

"That was probably the biggest first thing that we did, moving the train over to where it's housed now on Grove and Davis at Engine 209 Park, which is along the Greenway, that was kind of the first phase of the project," Mattison said.

The second phase of the project involved adding bollard lights to the entire Greenway, allowing citizens to enjoy the park during the evening hours or even after dark.

The current phase the city is working on is the stage portion of the Greenway, deemed the main entrance to the park by Mattison due to the large destination playground that was added there several years ago.

"Now we are putting in a permanent covered stage with sound and lighting, we're adding a large plaza to the park itself," Mattison said. "We needed a space for all of the great festivals that we have in town because a lot of them have outgrown the Downtown Square and needed a new home. And so they've naturally kind of migrated over to the Greenway. And so we just needed to do some upgrades to make it more adaptable for those events."

This effort hopes to solve several issues, such as having to drag temporary stages to many Greenway events and include better seating for those events.

"We're putting in seating along the hill that's out there in the middle that the kids are always playing on top of," Mattison said. "There we are adding tiered seating into the hill, it's going to be fantastic, you'll have a much better place to put out your blanket or bring a chair. And we're also adding a couple of racing slides down one side of that hill because kids are always playing on that hill that will kind of face the large playground that's out there."

One major improvement Mattison was excited about is the new bathroom building that will be added to the park. She noted that adding a bathroom has been a top request by a large number of Greenway park-goers.

This July is the 100th anniversary of the Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department, which will ring in with the opening of the new stage space. The city is planning to host a celebration with fireworks, a concert and more, Mattison said.

"I'm also hoping that we can program it for fitness classes, and maybe do Saturday morning yoga, on the Greenway under the stage," Mattison said. "So you've got some shade, but you're still outdoors. That's kind of part of the idea, we wanted it to be a little bit multipurpose."

Alongside that, Parks and Rec is hoping to begin a new concert series that will potentially take place on Sunday evenings on the Greenway.

"The other thing that we really want to use this space for is for other organizations to rent it and have a space where they can host their events," Mattison said. "We get requests for everything from large scale festivals like Mule Camp to ...  a small fundraiser out here, or a heart walk, or have a production or a show that's for summer theater, things like that."

The 100th anniversary celebration is currently planned for July 20 from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. on the Midland Greenway.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: gainesville, concerts, parks and recreation, events, midland greenway
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