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    Attention turns to City Hall Park plans

    With other projects done, Seminole can put its efforts into an $800,000 upgrade of the park near the Pinellas Trail.

    By MAUREEN BYRNE

    © St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


    SEMINOLE -- Improvements to City Hall Park have been delayed for a year, but city officials say they are getting closer to starting a major renovation project there.

    So far, six contractors have picked up packets at City Hall. General services director Mitch Bobowski said the city and landscape architect Phil Graham will begin evaluating the bids on Nov. 22, and he hopes to have a recommendation by the Dec. 12 City Council meeting.

    The upgrades at the park at 7464 Ridge Road, which is next to the Pinellas Trail, will be paid for by a $100,000 state grant and Penny for Pinellas money from the county. Work should begin in January and last six to eight months.

    Bobowski said the $800,000 face-lift was postponed because the city got "incredibly involved" with other projects, such as the refurbishment of Blossom Lake and Tennis Club parks, the landscaping of the medians on Park Boulevard and the revamping of the Recreation Center.

    "These are some major projects that take a lot of time to manage and make sure they are done appropriately," he said.

    Now that the Blossom Lake and Tennis Club projects are complete and the work on the recreation center is progressing, the city can concentrate on redoing City Hall Park, Bobowski said.

    Work on the 10-acre park could have started sooner, he said, but the city didn't want to cancel a fall concert series it hosts there.

    A 2-inch-thick manual details the project, which calls for a revamping of everything from picnic tables to parking lots. The entire surface will be regraded and resodded. Brick pathways will wind throughout the park.

    "The whole park will be totally refurbished," Bobowski said.

    Highlights of the project are a $150,000 band shell that will replace an existing large wooden deck, a floating fountain that will be anchored in the center of a pond, a sand volleyball court, new playground equipment and a fitness trail where people can exercise at individual stations.

    Jim Sheets, the city's recreation director, said he is looking forward to the park's band shell, which will be equipped for lighting and sound.

    "It's going to be an opportunity for me to upgrade our special events," he said, such as the annual Music in the Park series, Kids Appreciation Day, a Children's Fall Series and a Chili Fest.

    The driveway leading into the park also would change, widening to allow for two-way traffic. Cars will enter and exit off Ridge Road. The exit to Oakhurst Road, now the only way to get out of the park, will be closed to the public.

    Other work will include installing a 6-foot aluminum picket fence around the park, moving horseshoe pits from the city's tennis courts to the park, improving the drainage system and adding more picnic tables, benches and shade areas.

    If City Hall moves to the current library, the building will be transformed into several large community rooms that can be rented for parties and weddings.

    "It's going to be an active park, but we don't want to overprogram it," Sheets said. "We want people to come and just enjoy it."

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