It has been closed to the public for nearly two decades, but now a massive cleanup is finally underway at Tallahassee's historic Cascades Park. The first shovels of dirt were ceremoniously turned Thursday.
Tallahassee city attorney Jim English has many memories of Tallahassee's Cascades Park, the birthplace of Florida's capital and once a recreational center for the city.
Jim English says, "I remember coming to football games here. This was the football field in Tallahassee. I think the only football field."
He had his turn on the dirt, playing pee wee football on the park's Centennial Field. He remembers when he first learned the park would be condemned due to contamination from an old coal plant and landfill.
Jim English says, “It was just a sick to your stomach feeling to know this precious site wasn't going to be available."
For years, Cascades Park would sit in the shadow of Florida's Capitol, but not forgotten. It took years of work by many people to finally get the dirt turning. Thursday it finally happened. The $7.8 million cleanup began, with Florida picking up half the tab.
Gov. Jeb Bush says, “It was an appropriate appropriation, something that will spur the revitalization of this beautiful downtown."
The cleanup will take about six months and will be followed with the revitalization of the cascade under Blueprint 2000, and then the redevelopment that will restore Cascades Park, a place Jim English would like to see future generations enjoy as much as he once did.
Part of the revitalization efforts will include restoration of the 40 foot tall cascade that inspired Tallahassee's founders to mark it as Florida's capital.