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New facilities ahead for Walsingham Park

By MAUREEN BYRNE

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 26, 2001


SEMINOLE -- Walsingham Park is about to experience some growing pains.

Within two months, workers will begin a $1.8-million project to develop the western end of the 350-acre county park, said Steve Burke, an engineering supervisor for the county's public works department.

The work includes extending a road, fencing an area for dogs to roam, and building a restroom facility, two picnic shelters, a parking area and a 1-mile trail that will link 102nd Avenue to Walsingham Road. The project also will include drainage and utility improvements.

The Pinellas County Commission voted Tuesday to award a contract to Pepper Contracting Services in Clearwater. The project is being funded by Penny for Pinellas, a countywide, 1-cent sales tax.

As part of the park's final development phase, the work is expected to last a year, said Ed Lucas, an engineer for the county's parks department.

Park officials hope the new asphalt path and dog park will entice more visitors. The dog area will feature benches, open space, and access to water for thirsty pets.

"(The park) has been quite popular, but it hasn't been used as much as we expected," Lucas said.

Most people tend to frequent the same parks, Lucas said. "They don't think about the new ones around."

Walsingham Park, located between 102nd Avenue and Walsingham Road, opened in 1995. Only Fort De Soto Park in the southern tip of the county is bigger among Pinellas parks. Walsingham includes a 90-acre lake, picnic shelters and a boat ramp.

Lucas said plans to build an athletic field in the western end of the park were scrapped because the public prefers the park in its more natural state. "So that's what we're trying to maintain," he said.

A sidewalk that borders 102nd Avenue links Pinellas Trail users with an existing recreational path in the park. Currently, there is no sidewalk on Walsingham Road that connects the park to the Pinellas Trail. Lucas said rights-of-way issues have delayed the county from putting a sidewalk on the north side of the park.

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