Although the World Cup is in progress, soccer dreams in Plant City have been put on hold. An ongoing project to add six new playing fields at Ellis Methvin Park has stalled because of a lack of funding.
The city needs another $970,981.14 to complete the minimum requirements for the soccer fields and fourplex, and it needs $2,792,929.14 to finish all three stages of the project.
So far, the city has committed $7,742,430 and has another $918,440 available. The available funds come from county monies and grants and excess money from a roofing project for the police station.
Since the project began, a little more than 42% of funding has come from county grants and four state grants.
City Manager Dave Sollenberger proposed two ways to pay for the project at the commission meeting last week; one was borrowing Community Investment Tax revenues. But because a large majority of CIT funds are used for street maintenance, the commission asked Sollenberger to come up with another proposal.
“Surface repaving doesn’t need to be downgraded,” Vice Mayor Bill Dodson said.
Annual revenue from the CIT is $1.5 million. Of that amount, $832,000 goes to debt service on City Hall and the police complex, leaving a balance of $682,000 for other uses. Of that amount, $650,000 is used for street resurfacing, something the commission holds as a high priority.
The other option proposed was to pay as the project is completed. Once again, the commission would have to use funds ordinarily budgeted for street resurfacing.
“The best thing to do right now is to present this to you and let you mull it around,” Sollenberger said. “It’s the first time you’ve seen these numbers.”
The commission did not make a decision but will wait for a new proposal from Sollenberger at the next commission meeting.
“I’m guessing we will want some more details,” Mayor Rick Lott said. “It’s a lot to digest.”
Lott, a soccer coach himself, is determined to build a better park.
“We have to come up with some way to complete this project,” Lott said.
The 46-acre park is also home to the Plant City Tennis Center, four youth baseball/ softball fields, three picnic shelters, a playground the Optimist Club partially funds, a .42-mile walking trail around the pond and a .47-mile walking trail around the perimeter.
The park is located off of East Cherry Street, and about half of its users lives outside of the city limits.
Contact Amber Jurgensen at email@example.com.
Total cost: $3,711,369
Available funding: $918,440
Funding needed: $2,792,929
The Ashley Arthur (A.A.) Ellis family owned the Ellis Methvin Park property since 1880. His grandson, Dr. Roy Ellis, and wife, Bonnie Methvin Ellis, sold the 46-acre parcel to the city in 2002 and also donated a large sum toward the park’s development. The park is named in honor of Dr. Ellis and his wife.
With approximately half of the city recreation program participants living outside city limits, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners agreed to fund nearly 50% of the land-acquisition cost.
In the years since, matching grant funding of $535,611 was acquired from the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund earmarked $200,000, and Hillsborough County contributed $600,000. These grant funds helped leverage the city’s contributions by doubling the amount of funds available for park development.
Source: City of Plant City