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Lake Lillian improvements planned, including $70k shade structure

By Bryce Abshier – Contact Bryce@TheVOSM.net

(Thoughts? Submit a letter to the editor here.)

At a recent meeting of the Belleview City Commission, a series of engineering contracts with Kimley-Horn, a planning and designing consultation firm, were discussed. One such contract involved plans for improvements at Lake Lillian Park.

Belleview Public Works Director Bob Titterington explained the contract’s plans to the commission. “We’re moving forward with creating some paved parking areas, another restroom facility down on that end of the park, and we’re going to work on the trails to try and complete the trails to where they make a complete circle, and then we’re also going to look at some low-level lighting around the trail,” said Titterington.

A graphic released by Kimley-Horn details the planned improvements. It includes raised crosswalks where the current walking trails meet Lake Lillian Circle, paved parking towards the west of Lake Lillian in an area that is currently all grass, as well as a public restroom building near the newly paved parking area.

According to documents, Kimley-Horn’s cost in rendering just the improvement plans alone to the City of Belleview is estimated at a grand total of $38,190.00. These fees are itemized to include a “topographic” survey update, restroom building architecture, and civil design plans.

This contract for Kimley-Horn was approved unanimously by the commission at a 5-0 vote.

In a separate improvement item for Lake Lillian Park, the city will spend $70,650.00 on a shade structure for the current playground area. The structure will span an area of 48 feet by 70 feet and cover everything, including the swing set and slide. It will be made of six galvanized posts, a galvanized frame, and a fabric roof. The structure itself costs $39,000.00, while the installation costs $27,000.00. The remaining balance consists of shipping and permit fees.

Titterington told city commissioners that “As soon as we get this approved, we can get a purchase order and hopefully get this thing under construction in the next few months.”

Local parents have often complained about the current equipment baking in the hot Florida sun, becoming unusable for kids. “We’ve received complaints about the equipment because it gets so hot and the young kids, you know, they get scalded on it,” Titterington explained.

Commissioner Bo Smith thought the price seemed high, saying “The prices just seemed excessive. Is there any other companies to get prices from? I just don’t see almost $71,000.00 for shade.”

City of Belleview officials themselves did not seek bids for this particular project. Instead, they relied on a method called “piggybacking”. As a memorandum produced by City Attorney Fred Landt explained, Belleview can mimic a contract from Hillsborough County’s July 22, 2022 purchase contract from the shade structure vendor, Creative Shade Solutions, instead of themselves seeking bids from companies. The memorandum says that this avoids “unnecessary expenditure of money and staff time to unnecessarily seek bids or proposals.”

Belleview’s Public Works Director explained why he thought “piggybacking” was an effective method. “Realize that when we piggyback a bid, it is a bid. It’s not just that we went to one person and got a price. They went through the bid process just like we would do it if we started from scratch,” explained Titterington.

The commission decided to buy the $70,650.00 shade structure from Creative Shade Solutions, of Tarpon Springs, by 4-1 vote. Commissioner Bo Smith was the one vote opposed.

(Thoughts? Submit a letter to the editor here.)

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