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Longboat to spend a $550K developing passive park

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Longboat Key is poised to spend more than $500,000 to transform the 4.81 acres it bought for a community cultural center into a passive park setting. 

The Town Manager will ask the commission on Monday to appropriate $144,000 through a budget amendment toward the project to meet the financial demands of the plan.

Background

in 2014 and 2017 the Town used the fees collected in the land acquisition fund to purchase two parcels totaling 4.81 acres located at 592 Bay Isles Road and 555 Bay Isles Parkway in the vicinity of Town Hall. The former Amore restaurant used to operate on the site until the Town bought the land.

The Town embarked on a partnership with the Ringling College of Arts and Design to build and manage a Cultural and Community Center on the site. The Ringling removed itself from the plan after some commissioners were critical of Ringling and Ringling said it would be difficult to fundraise and make the project successful following the criticism.

Subsequently the Commission has opted to make the parcel usable as an event site for the public and hence the cost of $531,000 to perform the work.

The current site work addresses slope variation and high water table with fill and must meet Southwest Florida Water Management District requirements for wetland mitigation and stormwater management. The plan also includes basic electrical, water and sewer connections, and shell paths to facilitate temporary outdoor venue use.

Town staff has secured the Southwest Florida Water Management Permit for the initial site improvements and is prepared to move forward with a contractor to perform the work.

Now that the Town has received the actual construction costs from the contractor it will be necessary to transfer some of the funding from the unappropriated Fund Balance to proceed with the site work and complete the initial project says the Town Manager.

The Town is utilizing a Sarasota County Unit Price Contract to award the site work construction contract to Gator Grading & Paving, LLC for approximately $491,000. In addition, the Town will be procuring onsite testing services and also consulting to support a public workshop for future improvements. These additional services are estimated at $40,000 for a total of $531,000.

If the budget amendment is approved Monday, Town staff will proceed with scheduling the site work. In conjunction with the start of the site work, staff will also be scheduling a public groundbreaking event on the property.

The Chamber of Commerce continues to move forward with its Savor of the Sounds concert series. The first of four monthly concerts is scheduled for Saturday, February 29. The Town says it intends to coordinate the construction work to minimize any impacts to the site during the scheduled concerts as part of encouraging the activation of the property this season.

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