The Alachua County Parks and Open Space Department has announced the reopening of Squirrel Ridge Park after a significant renovation project.
“We’d like to extend thanks to all our neighbors, dog lovers, and the Gainesville Hogs Rugby Club who participated in the open houses that guided the improvement decisions,” Alachua County Parks and Open Spaces Manager Jason Maurer said in a press release.
The county funded the project through its Wild Spaces & Public Places program, a one-half percent sales tax Alachua County voters approved in 2016. The cost of renovating the Squirrel Ridge Park—located at 1603 S.W. Williston Road in south Gainesville—was $484,000, according to a county press release. That's equal to one month of the revenue the program creates.
The improvements include a new modern playground, ADA walking paths, dog agility equipment, doggie wash station and shaded benches, the county said.
"The park improvement project was realized through collaboration with the community," the county press release said, noting more improvements are on the way, including a restroom and expansion of the walking path.
Maurer said the renovation effort was strategic and now gives the park some key classifications.
“The new play area at Squirrel Ridge is listed by Playcore as a National Demonstration Site for 'Play On!’ promoting physical activity as well as 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design,” Maurer said.
The design is aimed at both combatting childhood obesity and making playgrounds friendly for children with disabilities. According to Playcore, the seven principles started out as a way to make commercial buildings more accessible, then child advocates adapted them for playgrounds that would factor in those with special needs.
"Inclusive playgrounds make a fundamental statement about how communities value meaningful play experiences for people of all ages and abilities," the Playcore website says.