BROOKSVILLE — For the past few months, Dr. Gary Wilson has spent nearly every waking hour at the site of what promises to be a celebrated landmark in downtown Brooksville. And with the dedication of the Brooksville Common just days away, he admits he's a bit anxious.
"It's been in the works for a long time, and now we're right down to the wire," Wilson said of the project that he has overseen. "I want everyone who visits it to be impressed by what they see here."
Since its groundbreaking in August, the project has hummed along with relatively few delays, Wilson said. And though not everything is likely to be completed by Thursday's dedication, he doubts that anyone is likely to notice.
"We'll probably be doing some tweaking for a while longer, but essentially everything that needs to be there is already done," Wilson said.
The idea of establishing a community park adjacent to First United Methodist Church of Brooksville on Broad Street began in 2009, with a committee of church leaders that included longtime Brooksville residents Dave Milliman, Joe Mason and Gene Manuel. Although a number of ideas were tossed around, the group decided to focus its efforts on honoring the site's historic past as the original 1914 location of First Presbyterian Church, whose congregation later relocated to a site on Bell Avenue.
The setting, whose features include lighted stone tablets bearing the Ten Commandments, a metal Tree of Life sculpture, plus a covered pavilion and garden area, will provide a place for outdoor weddings, church services, concerts, festivals, block parties and other activities.
Wilson, a retired physician, church member and a core volunteer on the project, said that although First United Methodist provided seed money, a fundraising effort helped to garner the rest of the money for the $180,000 project. More than 300 donors — from as far away as Hawaii — purchased memorial bricks that will line the common's walkways.
Wilson, who has read every inscribed brick being installed, said that many of the memorial messages touched him.
"Many are very sentimental and honor family members," he said. "I think that through the years people will be able to walk through and get a great sense of history about the community just from reading them."
Although the space will primarily focus on honoring faith, it will be available for both secular and religious groups of any denomination for services, outdoor baptisms and other gatherings.
"We want it to be a special place that everyone will remember," Wilson said.
Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.