HOLMES BEACH – Projects at the city field complex are underway and showing signs of significant progress, however, some residents are concerned about what the finished product will look like.
City Engineer Lynn Burnett presented plans for the expanded large dog park, multi-use field, walking track and skate park during the Nov. 19 city commission meeting.
Work is already underway in both the skate park and the dog park with drainage work completed in the dog park and elements already being installed at the site of the new skate park. The dog park is currently planned for a December or January grand opening while the skate park is planned to open to the public shortly after. Other openings, including for the multi-use field and tot lot playground are expected later in the new year. Rather than having a single grand opening for the park complex, each area is now expected to have its own public opening.
Though the construction is visibly moving forward now, there are some residents who are still concerned about what final product will be unveiled to the public, particularly in the dog park.
Though Burnett presented plans for the dog park, including the fencing, two double gates, a water fountain, seating area for patrons and a fire hydrant-style splash pad for dogs, several dog park users present at the meeting still had questions about what will be included in the park.
Resident Mary Miller said that she feels the overall message coming from city hall concerning the dog park is fear for users that decisions will be made without public knowledge. She said she doesn’t mind seating being moved from the old pavilion, which Development Services Director Eran Wasserman says is in no condition to be moved from the current dog park location, but that she wants to know about the alignment of the benches before they’re installed.
“We just want input,” she said.
Parks and beautification committee member Carol Hatz said she feels that using the old dugout area as seating is too far removed from the majority of the dog park and fears that people will not use it. Wasserman said that the intention is to put in U-shaped seating areas where park patrons can visit and can still have a good view of their pets.
Mayor Judy Titsworth said that her door is always open to residents concerned about the dog park or any other elements of city field. She invited the community to reach out and call either herself or Wasserman with any questions.
For the majority of the elements of the dog park, including ground cover, Titsworth said that Burnett and her team are deferring to suggestions made previously by members of the city’s parks and beautification committee. The suggestions were formed over a period of a year with input from dog park users. She said that fencing in the dog park is expected to go up within the first 10 days of December with construction on the dugouts, turning them into welcoming pavilions for patrons, beginning soon as well.
Commissioner Carol Soustek said that while the plans for what will be taking place in the dog park are done for now, it doesn’t mean that they’re set in stone. She said she envisions the dog park as an evolving element of the city field complex and that changes and additional upgrades will be made as needed over time.
“I think the parks and beautification committee did a tremendous job,” she said.
Titsworth reemphasized how important she feels the dog park is to the city as a whole.
“It’s an important feature for our community and I want the dogs to love it,” she said.