A cherished park in Alachua is about to get some TLC.
The master plan for the new Legacy Park next to the Hal Brady Recreation Complex in Alachua was approved Oct. 26, and the designer, Paul Stresing Associates, Inc., was named Monday night.
The project has special significance for the Alachua-based firm.
“I think it’s just near and dear to all of our hearts and it was a nice opportunity to be able to give back a little bit,” Paul Stresing said.
Stresing coached baseball and soccer at the Hal Brady Complex from 1995 to 2005 while his daughter and son were playing.
Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari said the master plan for Legacy Park will include two regulation-size baseball fields, two dog parks, walking trails, tennis courts, two Little League fields, a disc golf course, two game fields, a tournament field, and a multipurpose center that will include courts for basketball and volleyball. The plan also includes a stage area for arts and culture activities and two multipurpose rooms that can be used for activities like yoga, aerobics or boardgames.
“These are facilities that our community wants and needs,” Boukari said.
He added that the facilities included in the project were determined in part by public input at meetings where the community could voice what they wanted. The multipurpose center was clearly the community’s first priority.
Boukari said the project has been divided into four phases. Phase one is set to begin in April 2016 and will finish construction a year later. This phase will include the multipurpose center along with a nature trail and pavilion.
The total cost for all phases of the project is projected to be between $19.7 million and $20 million, Boukari said. But the reason the project has been divided into phases is so the project can change as the community needs change.
“I think our commission is really committed to making sure that this facility serves our community,” he said.
Ken Murphy, coach of the girl’s varsity soccer team at Santa Fe High School, said the complex is vital to his team.
Murphy has been coaching girl’s varsity soccer for four years. In that time, the girl’s soccer program at Santa Fe High School was able to add a junior varsity team. In the last year, the soccer program grew from 14 girls between the two teams to 34.
“It gives them an opportunity to grow and become young ladies and grow in confidence,” he said.
This isn’t Murphy’s first experience with the Hal Brady Complex; he’s been a visitor since his children started playing soccer there at age four. He said because of the programs at the complex and soccer programs at local high schools, both of his children received scholarships to play soccer at the college level.
When it comes to the construction of Legacy Park, he’s most looking forward to having even more area for practice.
“With that continued growth in our athletics and women’s programs, we need more space,” he said.
Santa Fe High School does not have enough practice fields for all of its sports. Murphy said the Hal Brady Complex is one of the only ways the school can add new athletic opportunities, like lacrosse, which will start its first season this year.
“If we didn’t have this facility, we wouldn’t be able to train,” he said.