The Gainesville City Commission on Thursday voted unanimously to proceed with renovations of two city-owned properties at a cost totaling more than $2 million.
Commissioners in their General Policy Committee meeting heard a staff update from Wild Spaces, Public Places (WSPP) Director Betsy Waite and discussed project updates for the coming years.
The committee, composed of Mayor Lauren Poe and city commissioners Helen Warren, Gail Johnson, Gigi Simmons, Harvey Ward, David Arreola and Adrian Hayes-Santos unanimously chose to proceed with the renovations of the Hartman House and the Clarence R. Kelly Community Center.
They also chose to update the WSPP prioritization list. The public agreed with the commission’s decision.
WSPP proposed a four-year plan for both developments that will be funded by the half-cent sales tax that voters approved in 2016. It will then transition to government funding.
Waite updated the committee on improvements to Duval Park, Green Acres and Reserve Park.
Duval Park, 520 NE 21st St., has its boardwalk replacement underway; staff at Green Acres Park, 643 SW 40th St., are currently building a new playground; and at Reserve Park, 700 NE 11th St, construction begins this month on a community garden, playground and new parking.
The Hartman House at Hogtown Creek Headwaters Nature Park, 1500 NW 45th Ave., renovation plan is estimated at $400,000 — more than double the original estimated cost — and will include a revised floor plan.
Waite proposed two options: renovate the existing structure or postpone action for the later years of the program.
The committee decided that it was in the public’s best interest to renovate the existing structure into educational nature programming because of the historical value of the 1910 dairy house.
Commissioners also discussed making the house into a multi-purpose facility. That’s not happening yet.
Poe said he wants to focus on renovating the house first before they make any major decisions on what the facility will be used for.
“I want it renovated,” Poe said. “We can worry about the programming later.”
The committee was also worried about the house’s deterioration.
“We need to move forward with the renovation because an unoccupied building that is already in disrepair can deteriorate pretty quickly,” Poe said.
The option of new construction was also introduced because of the old foundation of the house, but it was quickly brought down by the committee and the public.
“It’s a historic building that should be held at a historical standard,” Simmons said.
Clarence R. Kelly Community Center
The Clarence R. Kelly Community Center redesign at 1701 NE 8th Ave. was introduced in 2017.
City Architect Sarit Sela proposed a conceptual master plan for its redesign, which includes a new community center building, improved surface parking with area drop-off, playground areas, and sports courts.
There were six building site options, which offered partial and full site developments.
They had focus groups engage with the development and the Sela said the changes the citizens would most like to see in the Kelly Center was a renovation and a larger center.
The meeting decided the best and most optimal option was 3B, which offered the basic building renovation and a full-site development of the 2 acres of land, and additional amenities such as a storefront suite and game room.
“This seems to be the option that the public wants,” Poe said.
This option costs $1.75 million and is scheduled for a September 2021 completion.