Many City Improvement Projects are in the Works in Gainesville

The city of Gainesville has been undertaking a great deal of projects to improve the economic viability as well as enhancement of the overall aesthetics of Gainesville, with many of these projects gaining serious traction in 2015. Such projects include the potential Community Redevelopment Area in the northwest part of town, the opening of the Paynes Prairie Sheetflow Restoration Project, the pledge of $100,000 to the Chamber of Commerce, as well as the plans underway to prevent traffic congestion in the coming years.

The possible Community Redevelopment Area would extend from where 13th Street and 6th Street intersect southward to 16th Avenue. This area contains Gainesville High School, Stephen Foster Elementary School, and the Koppers site that was the cause of the contaminated soil in the nearby areas. An independent organization, Tindale-Oliver and Associates, is conducting a study on the area that will determine whether the area qualifies as a potential CRA location. These findings will be revealed to the city commission near the end of March. The city commission will then make the final decision on whether to give the go ahead on the CRA classification, allowing for more tax dollars to be provided for the area. The true end game of this project is to make the CRA more economically self-sufficient by providing the area with better infrastructure and improved aesthetics through the additional tax dollars.

Something that will also improve the aesthetics, and hopefully in turn the economy, of Gainesville is the creation of the Paynes Prairie Sheetflow Restoration Project. This project provides a network of trails, an outdoor pavilion, and a visitors’ center. As of now the city staff is only comfortable with opening the park on weekends. This is due to budgetary constraints for paying those that would work at the park. Some people in the community are pushing for the park to be open full-time, suggesting that volunteers could provide oversight at the park rather than paid employees. Most that are pushing for the full-time operation of the park, want this because they feel the park could be an economic magnet to the area. The city staff will go before the city commission again to make suggestions that will hopefully allow for the park to be open seven days a week starting October 1st.

In another effort to boost the economy of Gainesville, the city commission voted in favor of giving $100,000 over the next five years to the Chamber of Commerce in order to fund their economic development initiative. This is on top of the $6 million already raised by the Chamber to fund recruitment, retention, and growth of businesses in the area. Not only is the Chamber of Commerce helping businesses in Gainesville, but they are reaching out to other communities in order to take a more regional approach to economic development. 

With all this potential growth on the way, many of those working in the transportation sector in Gainesville are anticipating increased congestion in the Gainesville area in the coming years. Estimates are putting Gainesville’s population at 305,000 people by 2040, a 58,000 person increase from the 2010 Census; the traffic implications of this are obvious. However, the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MTPO) is working on making its five-year update of the long-range transportation plan. The impact of the decisions that are made by the MTPO could impact funds received from 2019 to 2040. One potential the MTPO is looking into is making the Regional Transit System fare-free in order to encourage public transit. The Department of Transportation is also doing a study on the intersections of 34th Street, 2nd Avenue, and University Avenue in an attempt to reduce accidents at said intersections.

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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