SEMINOLE – As the planned Waterfront Park, 10400 Park Blvd., adjacent to Home Depot, moves forward, the Seminole City Council discussed possible elements for the park at its Oct. 8 workshop session.
A Recreation Advisory Board as well as city staff members suggested all of the potential uses for the site. The park, which totals 8 acres, has about 6 acres of uplands, which can be developed, said City Manager Frank Edmunds.
The park’s primary use will be as a kayak launch. The city is also exploring the possibility of having a vendor on site to rent kayaks and canoes and earn revenue for the city, Edmunds said.
When the city initially purchased the land, it received $200,000 in state funding “on the condition that we do ultimately develop that facility” as a kayak and canoe launch, Edmunds said.
In fact, because of the state grant, there is “a time constraint to the launch,” Edmunds said. “A very primitive launch” will be the site’s first use, even as other plans are made for the site.
“Work on the site is progressing,” he added. He anticipates that the site will be graded by the end of 2013.
The Recreation Advisory Board, which has met five times over the past year to discuss the Waterfront Park and visit other city and county parks within Seminole’s borders, also suggested a marine/aquatic theme for the new park “because of the connection to Long Bayou,” Edmunds sad.
The board also suggested using the entrance to showcase artwork by local artists as a welcome point to the city.
“This is in keeping with one of the council’s goals for more art in the community,” Edmunds said. “This would be a great location to introduce some art.”
Other suggested components made by the board include a large gazebo; seating throughout the park, including bench swings; Florida-friendly landscaping with an educational component; a boardwalk; a limitless playground for children of all abilities; and a trail around the edge of the park.
There were “some common threads” with the staff suggestions, Edmunds said. They included a marquee; open field space, a fitness trail, limitless playground and gazebo.
An electronic marquee sign could be used for a variety of purposes, he said, from letting residents know about city events to emergency preparedness.
And while he appreciates the possibility of open field space, “there isn’t enough” room Edmunds said. “The site would not accommodate that.”
But, he said, “The fitness trail dovetails with the committee’s recommendation for a trail around the park.”
Councilor John Counts said he supports the idea of a fitness trail, but hopes to expand the athletic facilities at the new park, though he acknowledged he’s likely “in the minority” for this idea. He brought up the idea for a skateboard park, similar to one opened recently in Largo, and also for basketball courts.
“It seems as though we have a lot of opportunities to incorporate some potential athletic uses to it,” he said. “We kind of go back to benches, gazebos, an additional god’s waiting room, in my opinion. I like the fitness trail idea.”
Councilor Bob Matthews expressed an interest in creating an area for fishing, an idea Mayor Leslie Waters supported.
The boardwalk would offer the most opportunity for fishing spots, Edmunds said.
Edmunds said that because of the land’s proximity to a waterway, the city could likely fund the project by applying for grants.
“I would like to do this project as much as we can through grants, which means it’s going to take some time,” he said. “But this project and the property location just lends itself to grants. Whatever we fall short on will most likely be a bond issue paid for by (Penny for Pinellas.)”
There are other state and federal grants the city can apply for, as well as a Home Depot Grant, Edmunds said.
“Once we get the preliminary design we will also have a preliminary cost estimate,” he said. “Then we can have that conversation [about funding.]”
Civic groups have also expressed an interest in being involved with the new park, he added, but said the city should refrain from discussing plans for the park with them until a concept is in place.