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ELLEN BOUKARI/Alachua County Today
Alachua’s Project Legacy is underway as Tuesday’s groundbreaking of Phase I marked the official beginning of construction. L-R: Project designer Paul Stressing, City of Alachua Recreation Director Damon Messina, City Manager Traci Gresham, Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari, City Commissioner Shirley Green Brown, Vice Mayor Robert Wilford, Mayor Gib Coerper, Commissioner Gary Hardacre, Commissioner Ben Boukari, Jr., former recreation director Hal Brady, and Erik Otte and Doug Wilcox of Scherer Construction.

ALACHUA – With a few turns of dirt at Tuesday’s groundbreaking, Alachua’s “Project Legacy” has transitioned from plans and drawings to the beginnings of Legacy Park, a 105-acre recreation and cultural center abutting the existing Hal Brady Recreation Complex.

On hand for the groundbreaking ceremony were City of Alachua elected officials and staff as well as members of the design team, the construction firm, area residents and representatives from Santa Fe High School. Alachua City Manager Traci Gresham offered words of welcome followed by Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari, who provided the history of the project and acknowledged the City Commission’s commitment and support to the community’s quality of life.

“We are fortunate in Alachua to have a City Commission with foresight and understanding of how a dollar’s investment today will result in a return that is exponentially greater for tomorrow and the days ahead,” Boukari said.

Tuesday’s groundbreaking kicked off Phase I, which is construction of the multi-purpose center. The initial design of the multi-purpose center calls for four full-sized dual basketball/volleyball courts with motorized bleachers seating 460 people, a performance stage, four multipurpose rooms, concession areas, multiuse trails, entry drive and related facilities.

“Project Legacy has been an exciting process for me as a city commissioner. First purchasing the 105-acre parcel right next to our Hal Brady recreation complex, then developing The Legacy Park master plan, and finally today breaking ground on the first phase,” said Commissioner Gary Hardacre. “We are going to have more both passive and active recreation for our residents and schools.”

The first phase of construction will create the main entrance off of Peggy Road along with building the approximately 36,000 square foot multi-purpose center at an estimated cost of $7.5 million, with cost of the entire park at completion estimated at between $19.7 to $20 million.

“Recreation and cultural arts are critical components to the quality of life in a community,” said Commissioner Ben Boukari, Jr. “We are fortunate in the city of Alachua to have a community that understands this and embraces these opportunities.”

Adjacent to the Hal Brady Recreation Complex, the City of Alachua purchased the 105-acre parcel in December 2011 with preliminary plans for additional recreation opportunities for the community. Prior to the purchase, the property was privately owned by a land development company and was planned for construction of approximately 200 houses.

City Commissioner Shirley Green Brown said, “In the 1980's, I volunteered at the recreation center with a roller skating program organized and started by Hal Brady and my husband, John Brown. Now, decades later, I am thrilled and excited to touch and experience the planning and implementation of the awesome construction of this multipurpose building in Legacy Park.

“This building will serve as a catalyst for all citizens, youth, young adults, seasoned and senior adults in our community for years to come.”

“Although I am very proud of our outstanding sports programs, I am especially excited about our new multipurpose building at Legacy Park,” Vice Mayor Robert Wilford said. “It will not only cater to sports activities, but will offer our citizens opportunities to see plays, musical programs, and other events. We are truly the “Good Life Community.”

The 105-acre Legacy Park will be integrated with the existing 25-acre Hal Brady Recreation Complex to create one park. The Legacy Park Master Plan proposes four phases of construction that would include regulation-size baseball fields, Little League fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, a multi-purpose center, two game fields, a tournament field with stadium seating, an amphitheater with stage, a disc golf course, two dog parks, and walking trails.

“Today should be marked as one that will go down in history in the city of Alachua. Legacy Park and the multi-purpose center we broke ground on today will change the way our community not only enjoys recreation, but also brings huge opportunities for cultural activities and events. Legacy Park will be something special in North Central Florida,” Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper said. “It is a tremendous step forward, not only for Alachua, but the entire surrounding region. When people look at our community – our jobs and educational opportunities and where they will live, Legacy Park will only serve to underscore the quality of life Alachua has to offer.”

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