Gainesville refreshes Lynch Park while supporting GRACE expansion

Published on May 09, 2024


As part of a series of downtown cleanup initiatives in collaboration with Go Downtown — a group of business owners, landlords and residents — along with other community stakeholders, the City of Gainesville is temporarily closing Haisley Lynch Park at 450 South Main Street for a scheduled refurbishment and refresh.

This is the municipal park’s first update since the $190,000 renovation in 2010 that transformed it into a dog park. That effort, funded by the Gainesville Community Reinvestment Area (GCRA) and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs (PRCA), added a fenced off-leash area, a garden with native Florida plantings, and new pathways, benches, lighting and fixtures.

Fourteen years later, Lynch Park is due for a “deep clean.” At a budgeted cost not to exceed $15,000, the project is expected to require four to six weeks to complete. The revitalization will include trash pickup, sanitation, landscaping, power washing, planting and tree trimming.

“Maintaining our parks for current and future generations is important,” said Gainesville Fire Rescue (GFR) Chief Joe Dixon, serving as special advisor to City Manager Cynthia W. Curry on matters of public health and public safety. “In the case of Lynch Park, we have people living in unsafe conditions. This is a City property and we must maintain it while also providing outreach and support for our neighbors experiencing homelessness.”

The GFR Community Resource Paramedicine (CRP) team is interacting regularly with houseless neighbors, and on three recent occasions succeeded in helping people secure shelter at GRACE Marketplace. Space at GRACE is expanding following a February vote by the Gainesville City Commission to reallocate $700,000 in unused American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to increase the number of available shelter beds.

The approved funding was utilized to immediately outfit 10 new beds at the existing facility, with GRACE then moving quickly to renovate a vacant 10,000-square-foot building into a residential emergency shelter, adding 20 more beds. GRACE Marketplace Executive Director Jon DeCarmine reports he is working with the architects to finalize the drawings and will begin the permitting process as soon as possible.

“There is no stone left unturned in our continuing efforts to see how we can connect houseless neighbors with the services they need,” Chief Dixon said. “We have reached out to offer assistance and services repeatedly over the past several weeks, and we have worked with the Gainesville Police Department to inform everyone in the area of the park that this refurbishment was coming.”

To help those in need of aid, the City has launched a new webpage with information about homelessness support and services. Neighbors experiencing homelessness are encouraged to connect with GRACE Marketplace for shelter.

The Gainesville Police Department will be present at Lynch Park to ensure it is vacated as required by City ordinance and Florida law. Officers will continue to monitor the location for the duration of the refurbishment. Officers also will maintain a regular presence to enforce park rules and policies after Lynch Park reopens.

Activities prohibited on park property by City ordinance include: remaining during hours when closed to public use; construction of any hut, shanty or shelter; setting or stoking a fire; discharging or depositing human waste; and littering.