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Belleview plans improvements for Cherokee Park

By Bryce Abshier – Contact

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

While the Belleview community continues to rapidly grow, city officials are continuing efforts to beautify and improve existing local parks. At a recent meeting of the Belleview City Commission, a series of improvements planned for Cherokee Park were discussed.

Kimley-Horn, the project planning and consultation firm contracted by Belleview, released documents that detail the vision the for Cherokee Park’s future. The plans include the addition of parallel parking spaces on SE 56th Avenue and SE 113th Place, additional sidewalks along the perimeter of the park, a new restroom building that will be identical to a new restroom building planned for Lake Lillian Park, new sidewalks on internal portions of the park (as outlined in the Exhibit A graphic), and a new park identification sign.

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 $35,980.00. These fees are itemized to include a “topographic” survey update, restroom building architecture, and civil design plans.

Some future improvements that are displayed on the graphic on Page 1 are expected to be added later, but are not included in this particular agreement. The potential future plans call for added landscape architecture and irrigation design for new plantings, new playground equipment design, a structural design for pavilions, and artwork concepts and design for a “sundial” (that’s right – a device that tells the time of day by the position of the sun in the sky).

One point of contention with the new Cherokee Park design plans could be the addition of parallel parking spots, as discussed by the commission.

Commissioner Mike Goldman expressed his contentment with the overall design, but wanted regular parking to be available. “I’ve always loved this design that we have here, is there a way for us to put in angled parking so we can have more parking spaces as opposed to parallel parking?,” Goldman asked Belleview Public Works Director Bob Titterington. “We have a lot of senior citizens in that enclave so it may not be easy for them,” Goldman went on. Titterington said he saw no reason why that request couldn’t be obliged.

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

In other matters of future park developments in the city of Belleview:

Shade Structures Aren’t Cheap

In the December 7 issue of the Voice, it was reported that the city will spend $70,650.00 on a shade structure for the playground at Lake Lillian Park. 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.

The $70k price tag may have seemed high to those unfamiliar with the commercial shade industry. “I need to get into the shade business,” mused one Voice reader.

As it turns out, that price is fairly typical among commercial shade structure vendors.

City of Belleview officials themselves did not seek bids for this project. Instead, they relied on a method called “piggybacking” and copied a contract from Hillsborough County’s July 22, 2022 purchase from Creative Shade Solutions, of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Officials said that this avoids “unnecessary expenditure of money and staff time to unnecessarily seek bids or proposals.”

An independent audit conducted by the Voice of four other vendors that offer similar products found all but one were more expensive, even ranging as high as $80,000.00. The one vendor that was lower, a Marion County-based firm, came in at nearly $65,000.00 and included a powder-coat finish with their product.

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

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