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Commission gives go-ahead for spray park
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DUNEDIN – A new spray park at Highlander Park was unanimously approved by the Dunedin City Commission at the March 5 meeting. The vote awarded a contract to Aquamarine Swimming Pool Company SPD of Clearwater in the amount of $350,000.

The commission was somewhat hesitant to spend any extra money now due to the economy, but nearly three-fourths of the costs of the spray ground will be covered by outside sources, said Robert DiSpirito, Dunedin city manager.

The parks and recreation department secured a grant for $200,000, provided the city matches those funds, and the Kiwanis Club volunteered to donate $50,000 toward the city’s match, DiSpirito said. Furthermore, the actual bid was $50,000 less than the original estimate and also includes more features than the city had envisioned, therefore getting more value for less money, DiSpirito told the commission.

The grant must be used to construct a water playground, and since funds are not available to relocate the current aquatic complex, a stand-alone spray ground would be a permissible and desirable use of the grant money, DiSpirito said. The grant must be used by April 2010.

DiSpirito offered the commission the following benefits of having a stand-alone spray ground:

“One, it can be open longer seasonally than a pool water playground. Two, there is no need for a lifeguard or other staff, and the city can place them on a timer. Three, spray grounds are sensor activated, which promotes water conservation ... Four, to promote interactive play. Five, less water is used because water is filtered and recirculated. Six, a theme could be used for the spray ground, which could be based on cultural, historical, or geographical influences. Seven, it is an extremely popular amenity to the public. Many Dunedin residents, myself included, travel to Oldsmar to use the spray ground there.”

During commission discussion, some members proposed doing a less expensive or smaller spray park. Other members said that would be possible, but the Oldsmar facility is crowded and the proposed spray park is still a good deal.

“I have done things smaller, such as the state park, but the smarter thing is to do it right in the first place,” said Deborah Kynes, commissioner.

Commissioners also agreed that given the economy, this would be a good, free amenity to offer residents who are staying closer to home. The park is scheduled for completion by late June, early July of 2009.

Commission OKs grant application for Bleakley property

The Dunedin City Commission unanimously voted on March 5 to allow for a grant application to preserve the Bleakley property as a park.

“This property represents one of the last green, waterfront properties in the city,” said Robert DiSpirito, city manager.

Mayor Bob Hackworth added that if the city did not work to preserve this green space, it would surely be developed.

The application deadline for the Parks and Open Space Florida Forever grant through Florida Communities Trust is May 13.

Recreational Trails grant approved for Weaver Park

DUNEDIN – Application for a $250,000 Recreational Trails program grant for Weaver Park was unanimously approved by the Dunedin City Commission March 5. The federal grant would require a 50 percent match in funds, but that can be met by in-kind services, said Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski.
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