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Plant City Observer Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 4 months ago

Revamping the parks

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The proposed budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is allotting more than $1.4 million to revamping several of Plant City’s local parks.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

Several of Plant City’s parks could soon get some much-needed improvements thanks to the city’s proposed budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

With an estimated cost of $1.465 million, the projects will revamp Ellis-Methvin Park, Snowden Park, Brewer Park and the Tennis Center.

“We’re always looking at ways that we can improve our park properties,” Jack Holland, director of the Recreation and Parks Department, said. “Since 2008, 2009, money has been pretty tight with decreased revenues for our general fund, money coming in from property taxes and such, so we really haven’t been able to do a whole lot in the past years since then. Now that the economy is turning a little bit better we’re able to do some improvements that are really needed.”

Snowden Park, 1702 Waller St., is expected to have new lighting installed along its walking trail, which

Installing lighting along the walking trail at Snowden Park is estimated to cost $50,000.

will help make the experience safer and more enjoyable for those hitting the track. The city is proposing to allot $50,000 for the installation. Holland said people frequently use the walking trails at multiple parks and the lighting should be able to extend the hours it is able to be safely enjoyed.

The half-mile trail circling Brewer Park has also been a community favorite. Holland said originally the park was simply a retention pond. After renovating it to make room for the runoff from the upcoming Midtown project and adding the trail, they were “shocked” at how many residents began using the track every day. Now the city is planning to install bathrooms at the park, using a proposed $115,000, to help meet the needs of the high traffic that comes through the area.

City Manager Bill McDaniel said the proposed budget addresses the needs of the users of the city’s parks and helps ensure they have an improved quality of life while they utilize the facilities.

“There are a lot of great things being proposed for the upcoming year, but look just at Brewer Park,” McDaniel said. “That park is used by so many people and it is woefully lacking in that it doesn’t have any restroom facilities. Those type of changes and

Courtesy of Jack Holland. Example of the proposed bathroom facility at Brewer Park.

improvements we have planned are really going to make a big difference in the lives of those who use the parks.”

New lighting is also coming to the parking lot of the Plant City Tennis Center, 120 N. Wilder Road, with the proposed $35,000 set aside by the city. Part of Ellis-Methvin Park, the center currently has six lighted HydroGrid clay courts, four lighted hard courts, a viewing balcony, pro shop and two single-use restrooms.

The center draws players from all over and sees anywhere from 200 to 900 people a month, averaging 400 guests each month, according to Holland. He said the lighting in the parking lot has been an issue for years. 

Because of the high traffic to the center, the proposed budget is allocating $275,000 to create a restroom and shower facility that will bring it on par with other venues of its size.

Many who take lessons or play a few games prefer to hit the courts before work or after they get off. The

Courtesy of Jack Holland. Example of the proposed restroom-shower facility at the Tennis Center.

four shower stalls will allow them to be able to rinse off before work or before heading home. 

Ellis-Methvin Park is also scheduled to have a new concession-restroom facility constructed at its location. The city is proposing to set aside $990,000 to jumpstart the project.

If the budget is approved in September the new budget will begin on October 1. Holland said whatever funding is approved will be used to begin the projects as soon as possible with hopes of getting them completed in that fiscal year.

Holland also said the Recreation and Parks Department plans to soon begin a survey of all of the parks in Plant City. They hope to map out a detailed list of improvements needed throughout the city, like looking at fencing around ball fields, lighting and overall quality of equipment.

They already are examining the playgrounds at each location. Some are 10 to 15 years old, with some being even older. Holland said the weather and wear and tear have caused quite a beating on the heavily-used units and its pieces are some of the more expensive units to replace. In some instances, he said it may be more financially viable to tear them down and simply start from scratch, rather than attempting to find replacements for outdated and thus more rare pieces.

The Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex is home to one of the highlighted playgrounds. Holland said it should be getting a new play set by the end of 2018. They are currently in the design phase for the new unit.

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