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Sarasota parks master plan
Sarasota Friday, May 31, 2019 3 years ago

City to discuss parks master plan

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Implementing the first phase of a parks improvement initiative would cost $50 million over the next decade.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

After spending more than a year devising a strategy for improving city parks, staff is prepared to present an initial price tag for their proposed plan: $50 million.

On Monday, the City Commission will discuss a parks and recreation master plan, which consultant Barth Associates LLC devised alongside city staff. According to material included with Monday's meeting agenda, it would cost $49,970,500 over a 10-year period to implement the recommended improvements.

That represents a fraction of the potential park improvements outlined in the master plan, first presented to the commission in December. At that time, consultant David Barth said the city would need to spend $200 million to reach an optimal level of service, a cost he acknowledged was likely unfeasible. Commissioners directed staff to refine a proposal prioritizing the various projects included in the master plan.

The latest proposal includes $17.8 million in deferred maintenance expenses and $32.1 million for park enhancements. High-priority parks identified in the report include Arlington Park, Payne Park and North Water Tower Park.

The report does not outline a specific strategy for funding the improvements. The plan identifies a variety of potential funding sources, including a dedicated property tax for parks, bond issues, grants, fees and more. Last year, the city approved the creation of a citywide parks and recreation taxing district, though the commission has not yet finalized a strategy for how to use that funding mechanism.

The full agenda for Monday’s commission meeting is available on the city’s website.

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