Editor’s Note: To celebrate the City of Gainesville turning 200 years old on Nov. 30, 2021, Gainesville Georgia Government is sharing interesting highlights from its centuries-old history. This is the fourth installment in a series, which will be featured monthly through November 2021 on gainesville.org and social media. For March, we present to you information spotlighting Gainesville Parks & Recreation, a nationally recognized department known for its customer service excellence, quality programming and beautiful facilities.
GAINESVILLE, Ga. (March 31, 2021) – In March, we welcomed the first day of spring (20th). It's during this time we see the Gainesville cityscape come alive with colorful blooms and flowering trees, but also with residents and visitors in search of recreational activities and programs, and parks and facilities in which to enjoy a leisurely stroll, walk their dogs or simply get out to appreciate fresh air and sunshine.
Gainesville Parks & Recreation offers more than 1,000 programs annually for participants of all ages; operates major facilities, including Frances Meadows Aquatic Center, Gainesville Civic Center and Lanier Point Athletic Complex; and maintains 21 parks for citizens and visitors to enjoy. Speaking of the Civic Center, the facility recently underwent a $1.2 million renovation project – the first major improvements to the historic building since 1992. The SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) 8 project included audio-visual upgrades, plus functionality and aesthetics improvements to the interior, including the addition of three meeting rooms.
'Greatest amount of protected green space'
Gainesville-Hall County has the greatest amount of protected green space (parks, recreation areas and privately owned open land) of any urban county in the State of Georgia, according to the Vision 2030 Greenspace Committee. Elachee Nature Science Center in Chicopee Woods, Smithgall Woodland Garden and Don Carter State Park are key anchors of the green space effort.
Awards and recognitions
Gainesville Parks & Recreation strives to make a positive impact through its facilities and programs. Focusing on five areas of impact – community, youth, health, environment and economic – the department plays a vital role within Gainesville.
Gainesville Parks & Recreation is proud of the part it plays in the quality of life our citizens covet. It operates and maintains eight major facilities, 21 parks and over 547-plus acres of park land. Gainesville Parks & Recreation is steadfast in its commitment of building and preserving a parks and recreation system that meets the needs of the community.
Named "Agency of the Year" 17 times over the last 31 years by the Georgia Recreation & Parks Association, most recently in 2020, Gainesville Parks & Recreation sets the standard for leisure in Georgia.
The department has also been a CAPRA Accredited Agency since 2000, receiving its reaccreditation every five years with its most recent completed virtually in summer 2020. Gainesville Parks & Rec is one of 11 agencies in Georgia to hold that designation, and one of only 183 in the U.S. At the time of its first accreditation, Gainesville Parks & Rec was only the third in the State to receive the distinction.
Despite the effects of the pandemic, the department was able to invest $4.1 million in major capital projects, including the Gainesville Skate Park, which opened in June 2020 on High Street; City Park renovations; new park signage; and property acquisition for “The Coop”, a new youth sports complex named for former Director Melvin Cooper. The project proposed off Old Cornelia Highway near White Sulphur Elementary remains a work in progress, but continues to move forward.
Programs and athletics
Gainesville Parks & Recreation continues to safely offer a number of programs and athletics to community youth, including – but not limited to: youth and pee-wee athletics, Spring Swing Tennis Tournament, dog agility training, dance lessons, skateboard lessons, spring break camp, etc. Learn more by reviewing the Winter 2021 Gainesville At Play Activity Guide.
In addition to the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center, which plays host to numerous fitness and aquatic opportunities, Gainesville Parks & Recreation also maintains enough athletic fields, facilities and parks to welcome over 800,000 visitors a year.
Blueways & Water Trails
The Gainesville Upper Lanier Water Trail is a 14-mile section of Lake Lanier and is a continuation of the Upper Chattahoochee River Water Trail. Learn more here.
Learn more about Gainesville's multi-use trail system and green corridors that connect our community. Learn more here.
Gainesville's rich history can be found in your parks. Learn more here.
Five very unique parks in the City provide public access to Lake Lanier. Learn more here.
Neighborhood parks are a vital part of Gainesville's community landscape and offer a variety of amenities for all ages and interests. Learn more here.
Linwood Nature Preserve
In the heart of the City, this 32-acre preserve is a national mode for native plant conservation. Learn more here.
Skaters from across North Georgia come to this one-of-a-kind park. Learn more here.
Athletic Field Rentals
Gainesville Parks and Rec offers a variety of athletic fields for rentals and tournaments. Learn more here.
Our tennis, basketball and pickleball courts are open to the public and free to use on a first-come, first-served basis. Learn more here.
Reserve a park pavilion for your next gathering. Learn more here.
To learn more about Gainesville Parks & Recreation, visit the department online.