HOLMES BEACH – City Engineer Lynn Burnett has a new plan for city field and it’s one that commissioners are more willing to get behind.
Burnett said her new plan takes into account the history of city field and the many residents who have donated to the project and the dedicated trees and equipment in the complex. In the hopes of meeting both the requirements of the city’s comprehensive plan and providing the amenities residents and visitors are looking for, Burnett suggests creating a large parking area on the western side of the property along Marina Drive, relocating the skate park and large dog park nearer to the city-owned basketball courts, realigning the baseball field and moving the tot lot next to the existing gazebo.
She suggested building shuffleboard and horseshoe courts near the skate park with bocce ball courts near the dog park. She suggested using the existing skate park area as a staging area for city contractors and public works projects.
By moving the skate park and the dog park, Burnett said the two potentially loudest noisemakers in the complex would be relocated as far as possible from residential neighbors. By placing parking along Marina Drive, she added the park would have a focal entrance point and the city would be able to provide more on-site parking for large events.
She recommended a slight realignment of the baseball field to close to the center of the complex and leaving the outfield without a fence to allow for more space for special events in the park. Ultimately, she said a walking/jogging track could be added with some exercise stations around the perimeter of the park with little additional cost to the city.
Burnett presented commissioners with an estimate of costs, not including the creation of the off-street parking facility, of $300,600 to be divided evenly over the 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscal years.
While commissioners were primarily in favor of the project, City Attorney Patricia Petruff suggested that Burnett may have overlooked one important item – overflow parking for the nearby city boat ramp.
Commissioner Pat Morton agreed, saying that during season he sees several boats parked in the lot adjacent to the city basketball courts, where Burnett proposes to relocate the large dog park. To resolve the issue, Commissioner Rick Hurst suggested swapping the location of the small and large dog parks with the proposed parking area on Marina Drive. He said the location would allow for dogs to be kept away from where they may disturb residents, there already are a large number of trees in the area and part of the enlarged parking area could be designated for overflow boat ramp parking when needed.
Commissioner Judy Titsworth said she liked the ideas presented by Burnett but that the project needs public input from local stakeholders. She also suggested Burnett develop a map of where memorial trees, benches, and other items will be placed so that donors can see where their items are located in the complex.
“I like it,” Commissioner Carol Soustek said of the new concept. She agreed that there are changes that may need to be made to the proposal but that the project should be presented to the public for comment and review before commissioners vote to take action.
Burnett agreed to work with the city’s parks and beautification committee to reach out to local stakeholders and set up a public workshop.
Once work begins, she said it would take about two weeks to relocate the tot lot, four to five months to work on the dog parks, and if a design is approved by commissioners by February 2019, construction could take place May through September of 2019, allowing the park to open just in time for season. If commissioners vote to approve the plan when it comes before them in a regular meeting, she said some projects could be done in conjunction with the public input phase, such as the demolition of the existing skate park.