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Going with the Flow


The once-contaminated cascade site will become Tallahassee's largest park.

A long-gone and nearly forgotten series of small waterfalls, believed by many historians to have influenced the siting of Florida's capital nearly 200 years ago, will flow again in Tallahassee.

The original cascade, fed by the St. Augustine Branch, springs and stormwater, was recorded in 1823, when Florida's territorial governor appointed two commissioners, one each from St. Augustine and Pensacola, to pick a mid-territory capital site.

The cascade will be reenergized at Cascades Park, a 22-acre redevelopment project. When completed in 2009, the park will be the city's largest.

"Cascades Park in many ways represents 'ground zero' in Tallahassee history,'' historian Jonathan Lammers wrote recently. The cascade's demise came as the railroad came through, the city built a gasification plant there, buried toxic waste and filled the sinkhole. By the 1970s, the site was fenced off because of contamination; cleanup is on track for completion this year.

"I'm glad to see them remediating that contamination and learning from the mistakes.''
-- writer and activist Julie

Blueprint 2000, a citycounty community improvement agency, recently released the final design for the park, designated to receive $26.3 million of the $180-million Blueprint 2000 budget funded by local option sales taxes. Park construction will start in 2008. Among other features: A misting fountain, a restored natural stream, amphitheater and bridges.