Several major projects throughout town will soon be underway or completed as the city launches headfirst into the fiscal year.
The city has several major projects coming to fruition in 2019 that will help continue to ensure Plant City offers updated amenities to the public.
One of the most notable changes is the massive revamp planned for several local parks. With an approximate cost of $1.465 million, the projects will add improvements to Ellis-Methvin Park, Snowden Park, Brewer Park and the Tennis Center.
The Tennis Center, 102 N. Wilder Rd., will have new lighting in the parking lot at the price tag of approximately $35,000. The center is used by players all over the area and averages 400 guests each month, according to Jack Holland, director of the Recreation and Parks Department.
There is also $275,000 set aside to create a restroom and shower facility for the tennis center, which will allow those who use the courts before or after work to clean up before heading out for the day. The center is part of Ellis-Methvin Park, which is scheduled to have a new concession-restroom facility created for $990,000 during the upcoming year.
Snowden Park, 1702 Waller St., is expected to have new lighting installed along its walking trail, which will run approximately $50,000. Holland said the walking trails are one of the most frequently used assets at local parks so ensuring the usability hours can stretch from early morning to past dusk is essential for the department.
Brewer Park, 1491 Hunter St., was an unexpected success for the city. A half-mile walking trail circles the retention pond at Brewer, which was renovated to make room for any runoff from the upcoming Midtown project. Once the trail was added it soon became one of the busiest paths in the entire city. The plan is to use approximately $115,000 to install bathrooms at the park, which will help meet the needs of the high-traffic at the location.
City Manager Bill McDaniel said the park was “woefully lacking” and now that the economy is a little better the city is finally able to afford to tackle projects it’s had its eye on for years.
Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex, 2602 E. Cherry St., may also be getting a new playground by the end of 2018, according to Holland. Several of the playgrounds at nearby parks are aging and the plan is for the department to spend time creating an analysis of each location to determine where improvements are needed.
Fire Station Three, 1702 N. Park Rd., officially broke ground in September and will be completed in the upcoming months. The original price tag was approximately $3 mill for the building, however, a variety of issues including low construction estimates, continually increasing costs of construction material and an overall lack of skilled construction workers caused commissioners to have to add approximate $632,000 to the final budget.
During the dedication ceremony, Mayor Rick Lott said the city had a decision, to increase the budget or put out a less than satisfactory final product. He said the city wanted to show its support for its first responders so they unanimously voted to add more funds.
Parking in downtown will hopefully soon be a little more bearable as the city plans to upgrade two of its major lots — the Mahoney Street lot and the North Municipal lot. The north depot lot, found by the train museum, will need stormwater improvements to tackle draining issues, curbing, replaced wheel stops and more. Mahoney Street lot, between Collins Street and Evers Street, also needs improvements to draining and curb replacements as well as upgraded lighting, which McDaniel said will help downtown feel safe regardless of the hour someone visits.
The old post office on Reynolds Street was officially purchased by the city in December. General Services has already begun cleaning up the dilapidated property and landscaping is currently being revitalized at the location. The city is going to do a full assessment of the building tomorrow and will determine how to move forward with the project. When discussing potential plans for the space, McDaniel said the first priority was getting the parking lot open for the public to use for events nearby like shows at Plant City Entertainment or services at the church across the street.
Though the details have yet to be finalized one of the projects currently being championed by McDaniel is to have improvements made to the Plant City dog park to make it more accessible. Currently, the parking lot is on one side of a ditch and the park is on the other. Dogs and their owners either walk in the street or park in a non-designated spot to access the park.
McDaniel said there is still a lot to finalize, but the wheels are in motion on improving the property. There are often calls for adding a second dog park in the town, but until the city can prove the original one is being utilized it won’t be able to consider expanding to another location.