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Longboat Key Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020 1 year ago

Longboat Key saves $119K on phase one of Town Center Green project

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Commissioners are set to discuss phase-two improvements in October.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Phase one of the Town Center Green plan is complete.

The improvements to the 4.8-acre site between the Public Tennis Center and the Shoppes of Bay Isles include clearing the property of vegetation, raising the site out of a floodplain, adding some shell pathways, adding sidewalks, resurfacing the former Amore restaurant parking lot and sodding a new grass field.

Commissioners voted to approve a conceptual design for phase two of the project earlier this year, which still leaves several possibilities for the site.

“A lot of it is going to have to do with the Chamber of Commerce and working with them and working with other town organizations to kind of figure out what the town wants to do right now,” Longboat Key town projects manager Charlie Mopps said.

Phase-one work at 555 Bay Isles Parkway also included running conduit for electrical connections that would be needed for a stage and vendors.

Longboat Key town projects manager Charlie Mopps oversaw clearing work in April.

Mopps said the town saved $119,000 in phase one of the project. The original price was $516,000. However, Mopps said it actually cost the town $397,000.

“That money is going to be used to roll forward into the phase two designs,” Mopps said. “That’s a big deal. This is what’s making it possible for us…we had such a great cost savings through, like I said, really diligent work.”

With the additional $119,000 in savings, the proposed budget for phase two of the project is an estimated $1.09 million. Town commissioners must approve of the fiscal year 2021 budget by the end of September.

Phase two uses the preliminary concepts as a basis for designs that include hard-surface walkways, a fixed location for a performance structure to support a portable stage, public restrooms, landscaping, locations for tents and space for food trucks.

“The money that we saved is more than enough to pay for the final design of phase two through DMK Associates,” Mopps said. “When they get done with the design, they’ll come up with some other concepts to try to incorporate as much as possible the phase-one benefits that we just installed so that way we’re not wasting money.”

The town has worked with DMK Associates for the civil engineering portion of the project, while Hoyt Architects serves as a design consultant. Mopps said the town has worked with DMK in the past.

“We’re moving diligently to try to get a purchase order issued to [DMK Associates] so that way they can move forward with that conclusion of that design,” Mopps said.

Longboat Key leaders have discussed for years how to fund a future Town Center and what specifically to build. Possibilities include a community center, a new recreation center, a library, pickleball courts and a cafe among other things, though none of those structures are currently planned.  The original concept was an arts, culture and education center built in partnership with Ringling College of Art & Design, financed through private donations. 

The proposal fell through in 2019. Since then, the town has moved ahead with plans to initially create an outdoor venue while gauging public interest in more elaborate possibilities. 

Mopps said the plan is for commissioners to discuss phase two of the project during a workshop meeting on Oct. 19.

“It just depends on how full the agenda [is],” Mopps said.

Mopps also mentioned how commissioners will need to discuss several other projects the town is working on, including the building of Fire Station 92 and the canal dredging program.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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