Funds come through for park improvements

Dog and skate park
The Holmes Beach skate park remains closed as funds for repairs are allocated to help spruce up the 15-year-old facilities. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – The money is ready and waiting to be spent on improvements to the dog and skate parks.

Commissioners unanimously approved a budget amendment to move $50,000 from other accounts to the city’s Parks and Beautification Committee for dog park improvements. The funds do not add to the city’s budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year or impact other projects. City Treasurer Lori Hill said the money is being pulled from the city’s general government contingency fund, leaving $50,000 remaining in the account. She said because the funds were not used in the previous year, unless the contingency fund needs to be used to help pay for hurricane storm cleanup she doesn’t see the city using any of the general contingency funds, making it a good place to pull from for the dog park.

Commissioner Pat Morton said he wants to make sure the residents on neighboring Flotilla Drive are consulted before any changes are made to the dog park. He said he’d spoken with some who are concerned about the noise impact of increasing the park’s size.

Commissioner Carol Soustek suggested that anyone with concerns or suggestions for the park reach out to the city’s Parks and Beautification Committee, which is handling the early stages of dog park improvements.

For the skate park, Hill said the funds would come from different discretionary funds which already have line items for park improvements, negating the need for another budget amendment. Rather than stretching the improvements out over the next several years, City Planner Lynn Burnett said all of the funds for the skate park will be used in the current fiscal year, pushing some projects, such as curb replacement, out to other fiscal years. The current amount allocated to the skate park is $100,000.

With the limited amount of space available, Burnett, who is leading the project, said it would be difficult to spend that amount of money to provide upgrades and replacement of aging equipment in the park. Before work begins, she said an expert is coming down from Canada to evaluate the project and provide suggestions. A timeline for the project has not yet been established.

Funds for the skate park are being used from a discretionary tax which requires certain amounts be spent each fiscal year in different categories, including parks and recreation. Hill said part of the funds for the skate park will come from the five-cent gas tax proceeds while other will come from the new half-cent infrastructure tax.