The Dade City Commission has approved a land purchase that may finally bring a splash park/bike hub to the city’s downtown area.
The city has targeted a 2.23-acre parcel that borders the Hardy Trail on Eighth Street. The property, at 3772 Church St., is owned by local businessman Otto Weitzenkorn.
The real estate’s 2018 appraised value is $1.168 million, but city officials say the Weitzenkorn family is willing to sell it to the city for $800,000.
At their Oct. 22 meeting, commissioners voted 4-1 to proceed with the purchase. Commissioner Nicole Deese Newlon dissented.
The city has until the end of the year to close the transaction per terms of the presale agreement, according to City Attorney Thomas Thanas. An onsite inspection, suitability study and new appraisal will be needed, too, he said.
City leaders have discussed building a splash park/bike hub for the past few years.
Finding an ideal location had been another matter, until the Weitzenkorn family approached the city in August.
A preliminary concept plan for the recreation project calls for a multi-use water splash pad, bike-share shelter, amphitheater, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-accessible playground, open space, and concession area and other amenities.
Dade City Manager Leslie Porter indicated during the meeting the city plans to use reserve funds and Penny for Pasco revenues for the land acquisition, then apply for a series of Community Development Blocks Grants (CDBG) to fund park amenities. Pasco County Tourist Development also has allocated $250,000 for the recreational project.
Porter said the splash park project “has a lot of possibilities to take Dade City to the next level.”
Commissioners concurred the initiative can help revitalize the downtown business district while offering another recreational outlet for local youth, residents and visitors.
Commissioner Jim Shive said “it’s time to start thinking outside the box, bringing some things here to make things lively for the downtown and help pick up things.”
Commissioner Scott Black called the project “a good investment.”
Black added: “I think it’s something that future generations will appreciate the foresight that we had in doing this. It will be a really nice complementary to our downtown area, and I think that’s going to be a great thing.”
Mayor Camille Hernandez likewise supported the project as a community asset and possible tourism draw.
Hernandez said the project falls in line with the city’s ethos of building a healthy and age-friendly community.
“This is huge for Dade City in so many ways,” she said. “This will definitely help us to promote our business district, to help our CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) and to do all those things that we need to do.
“I believe this is another thing that will help to bring people here for our festivals, for our downtown, our community markets and all those other events,” the mayor said.
In casting the sole negative vote, Newlon said she’s a proponent of a splash park, but she expressed several reservations about the discussed property and project in general.
Newlon said she was “very concerned” the city would be tapping into reserves to pay for the Weitzenkorn property. She also pointed out the parcel contains a house with asbestos, which the city would be responsible for removing — therefore increasing the project cost.
She estimated the splash park/bike hub project could cost more than $2.5 million to $3 million, and added “that’s probably a conservative number.”
“I’m a little concerned about where that money’s coming from at this point, and it makes me uncomfortable to rely on the prospect of grant monies, when we really don’t know,” she said.
The city commissioner also said she thinks the new park location might take away from nearby Price Park, which is about a block away on Magnolia Avenue and recently has undergone upgrades.
“I’m concerned that we’ve put a lot of money into Price Park, and that park is almost going to be kind of an afterthought,” she said.
Plus, she took issue with the preliminary rendering, which shows a smaller, scaled-down splash pad overshadowed by other amenities and features.
“It feels like to me, we’ve lost the point of this exercise, which was the splash park. The design to me lacks that appeal, beyond the pricing issue,” she said.
Published October 30, 2019