Pal­metto to in­vest in parks, po­lice in 2019

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY MARK YOUNG my­[email protected]­

There are some big projects planned in the city of Pal­metto for 2019, some of which will be highly vis­i­ble, while oth­ers — like in­fra­struc­ture — won’t be.

Ac­cord­ing to Jim Free­man, city clerk, a re­quest for qual­i­fi­ca­tions will be sent out Jan. 7 for the es­ti­mated $8.2 mil­lion new po­lice sta­tion to be built at the site of the for­mer Pal­metto El­e­men­tary School on Sev­enth Street West. The city is us­ing about $6.5 mil­lion gen­er­ated by a voter­ap­proved sales tax in­crease to help pay for a new po­lice head­quar­ters.

Dis­cus­sions on how to pay the bal­ance for the project are on­go­ing. The RFQ is due within 30 days and who­ever is se­lected can be­gin the lengthy de­sign process, but hopes are high that ground will be bro­ken be­fore the end of the year.

An­other high-pro­file project is the planned 251-room Sher­a­ton ho­tel at the Braden­ton Area Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. The Pal­metto City Com­mis­sion on Jan. 7 is ex­pected to fi­nal­ize the gen­eral de­vel­op­ment plan and the de­vel­oper said he hopes to break ground by the spring.

The fate of the on­a­gain, off-again Lin­coln Park aquat­ics cen­ter and pool could make some progress dur­ing a Jan. 9 meet­ing be­tween the Pal­metto City Com­mis­sion and the Mana­tee County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers at the con­ven­tion cen­ter be­gin­ning at 5 p.m.

Mana­tee County ap­proved $289,000 in July for con­struc­tion ser­vices and de­sign, but there has been a lot of back and forth dis­cus­sion on what ameni­ties would be in­cluded and how much the county wanted the city to con­trib­ute. That hag­gling will de­cide the scope and size of the project.

County of­fi­cials said over this past sum­mer they would like to have the pool com­pleted by the end of 2019. Jeff Bur­ton, Pal­metto Com­mu­nity Re­de­vel­op­ment Agency direc­tor, said there are some ne­go­ti­a­tions left to com­plete, “But any­time we do a suc­cess­ful project with the county, it’s a good thing be­cause it shows one of the few times the city and county can work to­gether to re­move slum and blight.”

Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant ex­pressed con­fi­dence that pool con­struc­tion will move for­ward in 2019.

Parks in gen­eral, is some­thing Bryant is fo­cused on this year.

The city plans to in­vest about $1.7 mil­lion into its parks sys­tem in the com­ing years and has al­ready ap­proved $100,000 for new fire sta­tion-themed play­ground equip­ment at Hy­drant Park.

Fu­ture fund­ing in­cludes $200,000 to re­model re­strooms at Hid­den Lake Park and the same amount for new bath­rooms at Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Park. The money also will be used to­ward recre­ational trails at Hy­drant Park and other lo­ca­tions.

An ad­di­tional $250,000 will be put to­ward the even­tual con­struc­tion and im­prove­ments of Con­nor Park, for­merly known as the Eden­field prop­erty, which is 1.5 acres along the Mana­tee River on

Fifth Street West. Work will con­tinue this year to fin­ish trans­form­ing the prop­erty from a brown­field to green space.

Funds are in place for stormwa­ter en­gi­neer­ing, which Bur­ton said will take place through the first half of 2019. Other grants are ex­pected, so, “We can’t be­gin con­struc­tion un­til af­ter Oc­to­ber,” Bur­ton said, not­ing he hopes to break ground by the end of the year.

Also for this year,

Bryant said the com­ple­tion of Hy­drant Park and the re­place­ment of equip­ment that had to be re­moved from Tay­lor Park are her top pri­or­i­ties. Hy­drant Park com­ple­tion is ex­pected by the end of Fe­bru­ary.

There are more im­prove­ments planned for River­side Park West. A statue of a sea­horse is ex­pected to be in­stalled in 2019, pay­ing trib­ute to the orig­i­nal sea­horse build­ing that oc­cu­pied the park grounds. Plans also call for new bath­rooms and po­ten­tially a bait shop and small restau­rant, but Bur­ton said there is more work to be done be­fore that will hap­pen.

The Florida De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion has pro­vided $1.1 mil­lion to



be­gin a study and de­sign phase for the city’s trails sys­tem, which will be­gin from River­side Park West and even­tu­ally con­nect to the en­tire parks sys­tem. Work is ex­pected to be­gin on that project some­time in 2020.

A float­ing day dock about half­way be­tween the River­side Park boat ramp and the fish­ing pier was ex­pected to be com­pleted by the end of 2017. How­ever, the city is work­ing on re­con­fig­ur­ing park­ing for the boat ramp that could be af­fected by the po­ten­tial sale this year of a key piece of prop­erty fronting Eighth Av­enue West near the park’s en­trance.

The prop­erty was the site of the old Shell gas sta­tion that was torn down many years ago and has now been cleaned up and ready for sale. City com­mis­sion­ers are cur­rently in dis­cus­sions about pri­or­i­tiz­ing projects they would like to see go there.

Bur­ton said once the re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of park­ing, as well as en­try points have been de­ter­mined, the dock lo­ca­tion can be as well and it likely will be con­structed this year.

In an­other joint ven­ture, the city con­tin­ues to press the county on a promised dog park at the coun­ty­owned Black­stone Park. Bryant said she ex­pects progress on it this year.

The Pal­metto CRA took own­er­ship of the his­toric Pal­metto Ar­mory Build­ing a cou­ple of years ago from VFW Post 2488, which will con­tinue to be a ten­ant in the down­stairs por­tion of the build­ing. Ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions are planned for the build­ing in keep­ing with its his­toric ar­chi­tec­ture.

A new roof is ex­pected to be com­pleted early this year. The real his­tory is on the sec­ond floor, where it used to be a dance hall and has a bas­ket­ball court orig­i­nally used by the Pal­metto High School’s girls bas­ket­ball team. The court is still there and ren­o­va­tions will in­clude re­turn­ing the sec­ond floor back to the res­i­dents as a new com­mu­nity cen­ter.

It has spe­cial mean­ing to Bryant, whose three brothers served in the Army Na­tional Guard, and where she and her fam­ily dropped them off to leave for ba­sic train­ing.

“Those are good mem­o­ries for me,” said Bryant. “Es­pe­cially since two of those brothers have passed.”

In 2019, con­struc­tion will be­gin on a $4.4 mil­lion equal­iza­tion basin at the waste­water treat­ment plant that will en­sure a smooth flow of wa­ter re­gard­less of use at any point of the day.

“Ev­ery project we do is with an en­vi­ron­men­tal con­scious­ness for the fu­ture,” Bryant said. “We’ve in­vested a lot of money in the plant over the last 10 years. It’s not one of those pretty sub­jects, but it’s huge and crit­i­cal to the en­tire city.”

Braden­ton Her­ald file photo

The ex­ist­ing Pal­metto Po­lice build­ing on 10th Street is lit­er­ally crum­bling. Walls are sep­a­rat­ing, doors aren’t plumb, and the in­te­rior is a jum­bled war­ren of rooms added on over the years. A new $8.2 mil­lion fa­cil­ity could be­gin con­struc­tion by the end of 2019.

Pal­metto plans to in­vest about $1.7 mil­lion into its parks sys­tem in the com­ing years and has al­ready ap­proved $100,000 for new fire sta­tion-themed play­ground equip­ment at Hy­drant Park.

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