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La Vistana park plan moves forward
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Photo by NANCY AYERS
Two pieces of property in front of La Vistana condos in Redington Shores are being donated to the town in keeping with a development agreement. The developer is also donating $50,000 to convert the property to a landscaped park. City officials are planning to make it a passive park, with meandering walkways, shade trees, benches, and a clock tower as a centerpiece.
REDINGTON SHORES – Ideas for elements and landscaping for two new parks fronting the La Vistana condominiums on Gulf Boulevard were discussed at the town commission’s Dec. 28 workshop session.

The discussion was an addition to a presentation on the parks’ creation at last month’s workshop. At that meeting, Sam Ireson of Island Scapes and Pavers gave his plan for the parks. Ireson’s concept featured a meandering brick walkway and landscaping that included a mix of self-cleaning, low maintenance palms and shade trees, “trees that are different than what visitors see from where they come from,” he said.

Town Building Official Steve Andrews led the discussion at the December workshop, presenting a plan that built on Ireson’s and costed out the elements. The La Vistana condo developer is donating the land and contributing $50,000 to help pay for the parks as part of a development agreement. The property is small, totaling about 9,500 square feet.

Vice Mayor Lee Holmes, who ran the meeting in the absence of Mayor Bert Adams, said at the outset the parks’ creation could be handled by Andrews and his staff without the need for a landscape architect.

Commissioner MaryBeth Henderson said the project needs a professional architect.

“They know what they’re doing,” she said.

“We’ve got a lot of money. We don’t need to just hodge-podge it. Steve doesn’t know these things. It’s not his expertise,” Henderson said.

Commissioner Tom Kapper, a properties manager, agreed.

“We need to get a landscape architect that knows what to put in and where to put it,” he said.

Jeff Neal, who is a candidate for commissioner in the coming election, also liked that idea.

Andrews’ presentation, which followed and added detail to Ireson’s plan, called for a 2,000 square foot paver block walkway, with benches, salt-tolerant shade trees and vegetation, and a bike rack close to the public easement. Andrews also recommended planting live oak trees every 30 feet to shade the sidewalk, which he said was in line with a county beautification plan.

Other plantings included royal, Vecchia, Medjool and sable palms, and jacaranda, tabebuia, and weeping elm trees.

Kapper said the parks should be well lit after dark. Neal also said lighting is important.

“People go in at night, they get hurt, and we’ve got an issue,” he said.

A focal point for the park would be a clock tower, which was included in Ireson’s plan. The clock’s cost (about $20,000) and maintenance expense ($450 a year by contract) were questioned by some residents who were at the meeting. Tim Deboy said a sundial might be a better choice.

Commissioner John Branch suggested a temperature gauge.

Holmes favored the clock. He said it would be a centerpiece for the park, adding, “I see clocks in a lot of communities.”

Kapper also liked the clock idea. “It will be a good landmark,” he said.

The commission came to a consensus on having a professional landscape architect design the parks. They will now start the process of getting bids for the design work, which is expected to cost around $4,000.

Finance Committee member Chris Henderson said the location demands an architectural firm familiar with its unique needs.

“(The firm selected) must have planted on the beach, and have dealt with issues like salt spray and wind,” Henderson said.

Holmes said the town attorney advised him the deed from the developer donating the parks’ land to the town is being worked on and “should be cleared up” by the end of January.

“Then, we’ll be able to get moving” on creating the town’s latest green space, he said.

These pocket parks will have more passive features that are expected to offer a peaceful, restful alternative to the larger and more activity-intense Constitution and Del Bello parks.
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