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$5-million recreation complex nears home base

The School Board will be asked to approve the rest of the money for a 40-acre complex next to two new schools.

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 3, 2002

TAMPA PALMS -- School Board members will be asked this week to give their blessing to a $5-million recreational complex that they are undertaking with the city of Tampa.

The complex already is under way at 17302 Commerce Park Blvd., the site of Freedom High and Liberty Middle School. The two schools are scheduled to open in August.

The site already has been rough-graded. The School Board contributed $2.9-million to get the utilities and roadwork started after the May groundbreaking.

Project coordinator Jim Johannessen will ask the board Tuesday to approve the rest of the funding.

The public will share the 40-acre complex with the two schools. It will include four adult softball fields, two youth and two adult soccer fields, at least eight tennis courts, two basketball courts and a playground area.

"It will be as nice a complex as any in the city," said Ross Ferlita, Tampa's director of parks and recreation.

The city is paying for lights for the softball fields, the only lit fields at the complex. The school district will pay for a baseball and softball field at each school, as well as a football stadium at Freedom High.

Bleachers and lights should be in place by the second year.

The schools will share the soccer fields and tennis courts with the city. "That's what made this site unique," Ferlita said. "The school system didn't have to have as much land because we are sharing use and the city will run the complex. It saved them money."

The fields are the only part of the complex scheduled for completion by August. Johannessen said the additional funds must be released before work can be completed.

"We also need the playground available as part of the joint use agreement," said Johannessen, who is optimistic that funding will be approved.

Future plans call for a concession stand and two-story office building to house the Parks Department and county inspector's office. The site will include retention and wetland areas. But there will not be a park shelter or jogging trail as detailed in the master plan.

Tuesday's meeting, in the School Board auditorium at 901 E Kennedy Blvd., starts at 6 p.m.

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