Finding funds for Fido’s park

dog park funding
Ringo, on the bench, and Holly, on the ground, take a break from some serious fun time at the dog park. - Maggie Field | Sun

HOLMES BEACH –  Fido and friends will enjoy an updated dog park thanks to public funds being allocated for improvements.

They instructed City Treasurer Lori Hill and City Engineer Lynn Burnett to come back Oct. 26 with a proposed budget amendment. Moving existing funds to a dedicated line item for the dog park, the amendment won’t add money to the budget.

“I think if we don’t assign the money it’s going to be lost again in the thousand things we do,” Commissioner Carol Soustek said.

Burnett said there are several “buckets” of money to pull from to dedicate funding for the park. Those buckets include the public works park maintenance fund, the half-cent infrastructure tax and the five-cent gas tax fund. Adding to the available funds is $800 in donations the city’s been holding earmarked for the park. Commissioner Judy Titsworth wants to consider applying for concession funds for at least a part of the project.

Planning to take a look at the entire park complex between city hall and 63rd Street, Burnett asked commissioners to wait. She plans to have a consultant evaluate the skate park, baseball field, dog park and toddler park. Afterwards, she recommends a plan of action to commissioners. Part of the hold up is that the consultant hasn’t yet visited the property. For a restart, a new bid process needs to take place.

Commissioner Jean Peelen disagreed with the project’s timing.

“I think it’s wonderful, but it puts taking action six, eight, 12 months down the road,” she said.

Soustek wants the skate and dog parks to be priorities for the new fiscal year.

Both Titsworth and Commissioner Marvin Grossman balked at waiting for funding. Grossman argued a proposed bicycle path already has funding, but hasn’t been approved. Similarly, Titsworth spoke of moving $105,000 in funds allocated for debt services to other projects. The debt services amount is budgeted to purchase additional open green space for the city.

“I want the parks we have right now to be improved to something we can be proud of,” she said.

Peelen asked Hill and Burnett to create line items for both parks. Both budgets will be presented for discussion at the Oct. 26 work session. Commissioners expect a vote to approve the budget amendment in November.

The city’s parks and beautification committee also seeks to help Fido.

The group, working with Grossman as commission liaison, hopes to help plan improvements.

“It’s the most frequently used park in the city,” committee Chair Zan Fuller said. “I think we can do something really beautiful there.”