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March 04, 2015
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Posted: Saturday, March 1st 2014 at 9:00am

Gainesville to add pond and park along Midtown Greenway

By Marc Eggers Staff
click to enlarge
Horace Gee
GAINESVILLE – Another scenic stopping point along the Midtown Greenway is about to take shape.

The Gainesville City Council heard from Environmental Services Administrator Horace Gee at Thursday’s work session about several projects underway by the Public Utilities Department. This planned Midtown Greenway project will happen sooner than later.

“(It’s) a partnership with the EPD,” Gee explained. “We’ll be starting pretty quickly down around Gainesville Mill. (We plan to) start construction in June of this year. I’m looking at about a six to eight month construction period.”

The EPD is the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The Gainesville Mill is the closed, massive red brick structure between Georgia Avenue and Dean Street. The mill was built around 1900 and was a thriving enterprise for generations. It now sits idle behind a chain link fence dotted with “No Trespassing” signs.

“We’re going to be converting the old fire pond there at Gainesville Mill into an additional regional detention pond to take loadings off of Flat Creek when we have those heavy rains, so that we’re returning the waters back to the stream at a more reasonable time frame and not washing out the banks,” Gee said.

“It’s about a $1.2 million project. EPD’s grant will fund about $405,000 of that.”

The project will be a scenic stopping point for pedestrians; a valuable storm water control mechanism for the environment; a cost-friendly improvement for the city; and it will be meeting requirements placed on the city for the privilege of using state owned waters. This project satisfies four needs.

Gee said that there is an obligation that goes with the city’s use of Lake Lanier water. “Requirements to maintain our permits to withdraw and to discharge water back into state waters (specify) that we do a watershed or storm water-type project every year.”

Gee went on to explain the aesthetics of the new project and how it will resemble the park and pond in place along the Midtown Greenway at the intersection of High and Pine Streets.

“This pond is real shallow. It’s filled in with silt. It’s been there a hundred years. It’s only about three-foot deep,” Gee said.

“We’re going to enlarge this pond a little bit…and we’re going to deepen it by about eight feet. We’ll have about a 4-5 foot storage permanent pool in it like we do in our park setting at Midtown. Then we’ll have about 7-8 feet of flood storage…to help with those flooding rains.”

“We’re going to have a concrete path around this just as we do in our Midtown area…eventually working to tie this in…where we can go from Longwood Park all the way to this area. So it’ll look very similar to what we already have in our Midtown project,” Gee said.

Councilman George Wangemann asked Gee if the design would serve the city’s storm water needs.

Gee responded, “Everything we do…we design on a 100-year flood event.” But he smiled as he added that the summer of 2013 was exceptional in terms of rainfall. “Unfortunately this past summer…we had a couple of 500-year flood events as they (EPD) deem them.”

Years ago the cry went out during the drought for everyone to pray for rain. Those prayers were answered abundantly. The city has realized the importance of being prepared for the rains, and the value of making those preparations user-friendly and visitor-attractive.

(NOTE: The Gainesville Public Utilities Department has just been notified that they are the “Watershed Program of the Year” winners for the State of Georgia. An award ceremony is being planned.)

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Gainesville, GA 30501
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