Renovations come to Gainesville neighborhood park
Residents and business-owners in the Oakview neighborhood gathered Wednesday night to learn about planned park renovations. Taylor Girtman / Alligator Staff

The Wild Spaces and Public Places team is in the process of completing 30 community projects in Gainesville.

Director Betsy Waite presented the team’s progress to the Gainesville City Commission Thursday afternoon at a General Policy Committee meeting. Wild Spaces and Public places is a half-cent sales tax that passed in 2016 to improve parks and environmental spaces.

Some of the projects discussed included replacing the boardwalk at Duval Park, making improvements to Northside Park and restoring the Hartman House at Hogtown Creek Headwaters Nature Park.

Another project in progress is the Kiwanis Girl Scout Park, which will have a new face and possibly a new name later this year.

On Wednesday evening, Waite presented the Kiwanis park renovation plan to the neighboring community at its main building, at 810 NW Eighth St.

The renovations will include a modern playground, new plants, removing invasive species, a lighted path, parking and updating the nearly 64-year-old building, Waite said. Future building purposes include youth STEM programs and public meetings.

Waite anticipates construction to begin in the summer and span nine months.

Lorraine Duerden, 38, has lived near the park for about 13 years and brought her two young cousins to the park multiple times.

“I know they need to make some improvements on it, and I’m looking forward to see what happens,” she said.

On April 19, the project received $1 million from the commission, Waite said.

Neighbors at the meeting hope to localize and simplify the park name to Oakview Park, after the neighborhood. Waite said they need 50 petition signatures to make the change.

In 1955, the Kiwanis Club of Gainesville constructed the building, which was previously used as a regional office and training space for North Florida Girl Scout troops until 2014, Waite said.

Though the club no longer owns the park, they hope it still serves the community well, said 20-year-member John Woeste.

Woeste, 84, said he spent about 75 hours over the years caring for the building. He said the club is satisfied with the project’s direction.

“Kiwanis is about children and youth,” Woeste said. “We want the facility to be used in some way or another for the benefit of children and youth in the community.”

Contact Taylor Girtman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @taylorgirtman.

Contact Karina Elwood at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @karina_elwood.