A grassroots effort from community members in Carrollwood Village spurred the idea for a new 50-acre park that may see the light of day in the next few years.
The Carrollwood Village Community Park expects to replace the Dale Mabry Wastewater Treatment Plant once it goes offline, and the land is converted to a green space.
While the green site should be available by the spring of 2017, there’s not a timetable yet for when the park may open, because there’s no funding available for the park’s construction.
The county currently has $3.2 million for land acquisition and design of the park, according to Kyla Booher, manager of parks services with the Parks and Recreation Department.
However, about $4 million more would be needed to build the park, not counting administrative equipment or contingency costs.
“It’s a very rough estimate, but it could be upwards of more,” Booher said.
The construction funds would go toward site improvements, park access, infrastructure, lighting, landscape and other costs, the parks services manager added.
Booher said the parks department is still in the “very beginning” of the project’s development and environmental management process.
“We are in the planning process. We are looking at surveys right now,” Booher said. “We’re trying to solicit a design consultant for the master planning of the park.”
In September 2015, the parks department had a public meeting, seeking input from the community on the type of amenities they’d value the most at the 50-acre site.
Booher and her staff ranked the citizens comments, and created a top 10 “wish list” of amenities.
Walking trails, a dog park, a splash pad, a picnic area, a botanical garden and a nature center were some of the features most requested by community members.
“I think those are very reasonable requests,” Booher said. “There are much more that they wanted, but it wasn’t the general consensus.
“At this point, it’s going to be have a little bit more of a passive feel, so it may not have as much activity as a recreation site would with programs like dance and art classes.”
A more “passive” park is exactly what homeowners in Carrollwood Village want, according to Bill DeMare, co-chairman of Friends of Northwest Regional Park — the group responsible for spearheading the idea for a new park.
“We already have regional parks like Lettuce Lake Park, and we already have recreational parks — like basketball, tennis, indoor facilities, but this is more unique, and something the community can enjoy,” DeMare said.
“For years, we’ve talked about a dog park, a walking trail, and an area where you can just go and sit down and relax. It’ll be very serene.”
DeMare added it’s also important to have some sort of activity in the park, like an “upgraded” children’s playground.
“If we do a playground, it’ll be state of the art,” DeMare explained. It’ll kind of be a destination playground— not swings and slides— where parents and children can utilize ropes, ladders, rock formations and things of that nature.”
Once news spread about the retirement of the wastewater site, the Friends of the Northwest Regional Park collected several thousand individual signatures and received support from over 10,000 Carrollwood homeowners for a new park in the middle of Carrollwood Village.
“We started a grassroots effort to get the community behind the (park) idea, rather than allowing a developer to come in and have more congestion with stores or bars, or condos or apartments,” DeMare said.
The overwhelming support made the project an “easy sell” when presented to the Hillsborough County Commission last March, DeMare noted.
“It’s a lot easier to get approval when the community wants this,” Booher said. “The commissioners have been terrific.”
The community’s backing is one reason why the park services manager believes project will ultimately receive funding for construction.
“In my opinion, this is one of the more active projects that I’ve seen get picked up and get rolling with. There’s a very active group behind it, so who knows what could happen,” said Booher, referring to friends of the parks’ involvement. “I see this being a very high-profile political project that the community really wants, and typically, they find a way.
“It’s very fluid. It could happen at any time,” Booher said.
The next public forum will be held sometime in the spring or summer, Booher said.
Published February 17, 2016