Planning for the redevelopment of Hercules Park in Zephyrhills continues to move forward.
The Zephyrhills City Council has granted a contract for the park’s design and construction document services with engineering firm Kimley-Horn, in the amount of $292,985.
The agreement, approved on Oct. 25, is within 10% of the park’s estimated probable cost, of $3,386,636.
The scope of services includes creating construction documents and doing the permitting, surveying, architectural design and the construction phase services — to implement park elements depicted on the Hercules Park Master Plan, approved by the council.
Penny for Pasco revenues are being used to pay for the Hercules Park design.
City leaders have been talking for years about the need to spruce up the 12-acre park property, at the corner of County Road 54 and Gall Boulevard.
Leaders have been pressing for an action plan for vacant park land, which sits next to Zephyrhills High and Woodland Elementary schools. The area once had a popular aquatic center and swimming pool.
“I’m kind of glad to get started on this project,” Councilman Lance Smith said, after the council vote. “It’s been a long time coming.”
One of the more significant amenities proposed for the project is a BMX (bicycle motocross) track where mountain bike enthusiasts traverse jumps and obstacles, at still-to-be-determined heights and difficulty levels.
A rough conceptual sketch plan shows a circuitous riding trail covering roughly 5.29 acres on the southwest corner of the park property.
There also are plans to build a more traditional multi-use path that surrounds the perimeter of the mountain bike course to accommodate walkers, joggers and casual bike riders.
During a June workshop, several city leaders expressed reservations about dedicating such a large portion of the park for BMX.
Zephyrhills Mayor Gene Whitfield again raised objections to the BMX concept, at the recent meeting.
“It just seems like a lot of the project is going to that, a lot of the land area. We could do multiple things in there, or a couple of things,” Whitfield said.
Revisions to the plan are expected in the coming months, contingent on the community’s wants and needs, as well as cost considerations.
Depending on feedback, the BMX course could be scrapped, pared down or rearranged, to take up less acreage, officials said.
“This is like a cartoon drawing, basically, so I think we’ll see something come down a little more evolved, especially as we get down to pricing different things,” Smith said, referring to Kimley-Horn’s conceptual sketch plan.
Meantime, other Hercules Park property upgrades that are expected take on a mostly passive vibe, with a nearly 1-acre open playfield, 1.42-acre playground and picnic/shelter area, and a soft trail surrounding an existing retention pond and lighted fountain spray.
Renderings for the playground call for nature-based equipment beyond conventional slides and swings, such as a rock arch, cave overhang and tree ring surface.
The open playfield area, surrounded with pavilions, offers a grassy space ideal for throwing footballs, Frisbees and so on.
A splash pad — estimated at $350,000 — is listed as an alternate feature that’s also being considered.
Additional creative landscaping and seating options, such as benches, lounge chairs and picnic tables, need to be finalized, too.
A notable update from initial proposals is the addition of a public restroom building.
Restrooms were left out of the plans, given that proximity of bordering a Wawa gas station and Culver’s fast food restaurant, but council members insisted the park needs a restroom.
However, the estimated $250,000 for the facility did raise eyebrows.
Councilman Ken Burgess quipped, “I know we asked for a bathroom, and I know these prices are not the final prices, but they allowed $250,000 for a bathroom? It’s going to be one heck of a bathroom.”
City manager Billy Poe said there are added costs to ensure the facilities are indestructible, or “bomb-proof, basically.” He also noted that public restrooms built downtown behind Clock Plaza some 15 years ago cost about $175,000.
“Unfortunately,” Poe said, “we think that is the proper cost.”
Smith backed up the assertion: “Even though we know everything costs a lot, it’s amazing a bathroom costs as much as it does, it really is, but it does, I know it does.”
Later on during the meeting, Burgess also suggested infrastructure to install security cameras should also be considered throughout the project’s design and planning process.
Poe said that request is a good idea.
Published November 17, 2021