Bridge into woods connects trails near Westwood Park


Published: Sunday, January 14, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 14, 2007 at 1:09 a.m.
A wooden walkway through the woods caught the attention of Dr. Evelyn Kirby Jones, and city officials hope it will soon catch the attention of outdoor enthusiasts or people seeking a little quiet between two busy streets.
"I would like to know where the bridge goes from NW 8th Avenue into the woods/wetlands. Who is this for? Who is paying for this? It seems to be 'in progress' for a very long time," Jones wrote to Since You Asked.
The trail being built between NW 8th and 16th avenues is part of the Hogtown Creek greenway.
Gainesville officials had initially planned to build a paved trail in the woods east of Westside Park, but that drew considerable opposition. Voters in 1998 passed a referendum prohibiting paving in conservation or recreation lands - a move partially modified this year when voters opted to ease restrictions on paving in recreation lands.
Officials decided to build an unpaved trail. The trail will be a mix of an earthen path and a boardwalk through the wet areas, said Ann Egan, Gainesville's nature operations manager.
"Within those woods is Hogtown Creek and Possum Creek. Half of it will be boardwalk and half of it earthen - it's about 2,800 feet," Egan said. "It is supposed to be completed (this month). It's in the floodplain, but does not go by the creek itself."
The trail will link with two others - Loblolly to the south and the Alfred A. Ring Park to the north.
Ring Park is a greenway from NW 16th to 23rd Avenue. Loblolly runs from NW 8th Avenue to the Loblolly Environmental Education Center off NW 34th Street.
Egan said signs will soon be put up noting the trail. The project costs $392,000, of which $200,000 comes from a state grant.
"It is gorgeous out there once you get away from traffic. It's full of birds and is very peaceful and lovely," Egan said.
Jones said she drives by the trail several times a week, adding she might take a walk on it when it opens.
Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or swirkoc@gvillesun.com

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