New gym, better amenities planned for John Marble Park.
Mill Creek’s Seng Tang visits John Marble Park at least four times a week, taking his daughters, Ellie and Katie, to swim practices with the Sarasota Tsunami Swim Team.
He said he is thrilled about what Manatee County has planned for the park, including the relocation and reconstruction of the gymnasium and parking areas, extension of the pool deck, and new restroom facilities. Those improvements should be
complete by late 2020.
Other wish-list items are a splash pad and pickleball courts.
“I like we will have more space,” Tang said while reviewing plans during an open house Dec. 2 at the John Marble Park gymnasium. “At certain times of the year, parking is very bad. I like the idea of the splash park.”
Manatee County Property Management Construction Services Manager Tom Yarger said this first phase of improvements is expected to cost up to $6.5 million, with the bulk funded through the voter-approved infrastructure sales tax and the remainder, likely about $1.5 million, from park impact fees.
The project is 30% designed, and the open house served to solicit public input about the plans. Yarger said the county is in the process of hiring a project construction manager, which should be complete by spring 2019. Finishing the park’s design will take another five months and then construction of facilities should be 11 months, with expected completion in early 2020.
“We will try to keep it open as much as possible,” Yarger said of the park. “When we start to build the gym, the pool is probably going to have to close.”
Carolyn Thompson, a teacher at Bashaw Elementary School, wants to make sure children have enough fields for play, because the plan converts one field into a dog park area. She also hopes the county will expand its hours for the pool. Overall, she said she loved what she saw.
“I’ve used this facility for years,” she said. “I’m thrilled to see an upgrade.”
Jeannie Kotlarczyk, who lives within a five-minute drive of the park, said it serves residents who otherwise must drive to Lakewood Ranch or west Bradenton for park services. John Marble has the easternmost county-owned pool.
“It’s about time,” she said of the changes. “We need it in this area desperately. There’s nothing for the average person or the children (near here).”