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L-R: Catherine Taylor Park ribbon cutting with Linda and Tom Hewlett, High Springs Chamber President Yvonne Andrews, Commissioner Jason Evans, Vice-Mayor Gloria James, Commissioners Sue Weller and Scott Jamison, and Recreation Director Robert Basford. Neighborhood children were happy to have the new playground in their neighborhood and helped James with the huge scissors as she cut the ribbon. (Photo special to Alachua County Today)

HIGH SPRINGS – Grants from the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) have borne fruit in the form of renovations for two High Springs parks and playgrounds. Civic Center and Catherine Taylor parks have had their playground equipment, courts, nets, etc. improved over the past few months.

The Civic Center Playground was closed as work was being conducted, much to the dismay of parents with children at home during the summer break.

As all of the work at the Civic Center had been completed, the City held a grand opening/ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 10, complete with snow cones from Alachua's Tropical Sno.

Vice-Mayor Gloria James was at the helm at both parks to perform the ribbon cuttings. Also attending were High Springs City Commissioners Jason Evans, Scott Jamison and Sue Weller.

Catherine Taylor Park remained open during the upgrades, but a portion of the renovation had not been completed by Saturday. However, the playground equipment area had been upgraded and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at 11 a.m. to open the playground area. Snow cones from Tropical Sno were provided at this park as well to keep everyone cool.

Resurfacing the basketball court is currently in progress and should be open in the near future.

“Both grants were sought to help bring the city's playground and playground equipment up to a higher, safer standard in High Springs,” said City Manager Ed Booth earlier in the renovation process.

High Springs recreation director Robert Basford managed both grants and renovations simultaneously.

“It was a long process to do them both at the same time,” he said. “A lot of work went on behind the scenes before we even began the actual renovations.

“These two parks turned into two of the nicer parks in the county,” said Basford.

Upgrades at the Civic Park included state of the art playground equipment purchased from Gametime Playground and installed by by Kenico, Inc. “Additionally, renovation of the swing frame, replacement of swing chains and seats, installation of a whole new play structure and mulch borders were part of the upgrades,” according to Basford. Tennis nets and basketball rims were replaced and tennis and basketball courts were resurfaced by local contractor, Stephen Toth of Tennis Unlimited, Inc.

“The same contractor, installer, etc. were used for Catherine Taylor Park,” Basford said, “but the play structure itself is in a different shape and color from the Civic Center Playground.”

“We hope to be able to be able to revamp every city park to bring them all up to code and make them state of the art playgrounds/parks,” he said.

The City plans to renovate Walter Howard Park with another $50,000 FRDAP grant recently awarded to High Springs. “The state is still negotiating the contract and we are just waiting for that process to be completed,” said Basford. With any luck at all, the actual park renovation is expected to begin sometime around the first of the year.

Both the Civic Center and Catherine Taylor Parks are open sunrise to sunset.

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