OLDSMAR — A state matching grant is going to help facilitate needed upgrades to a popular city park.
In a recent unanimous vote, the Oldsmar City Council agreed to match $150,000 being offered by the state Department of Environmental Protection for upgrades at Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve, established in 1999 and located at 423 Lafayette Blvd. The state's portion of the funding is part of the Land and Water Conservation Fund program.
"We pride ourselves on our park system," said council member Linda Norris. "One-third of our city is parks and it's one of the wonderful things about this city."
But Norris said there have been a few complaints about Mobbly Bayou Preserve "because it's not as nice as other parks."
With the state matching grant, Oldsmar will now have $300,000 to upgrade the 376-acre park, which abuts Old Tampa Bay. The preserve already has shelters, nature trails, a fishing pier, a lookout tower and a popular dog park.
With the new funding, the city will add restrooms and an 8,000- to 9,000-square-foot picnic shelter that will be used for outdoor environmental education sessions. A concession facility will be added and the fishing pier will be expanded and extended. Also, renovation work will be completed on the observation tower, parking will be upgraded, and environmental signage will be added.
Lynn Rives, the city's Leisure Services director, said after some final paperwork is completed with the state, work on the upgrades should begin in the fall. He said the renovations and additions are "very important."
"The park is used a lot and it's a place where we get a lot of visitors," Rives said. "They go fish, exercise and to the dog park, which is the city's only dog park.
"But enhancing the park is an opportunity to do some environmental education, and by building the larger shelter, we can run an environmental education class, which is the main goal."
Mayor Jim Ronecker also is pleased with the expected park enhancements.
"It totally improves the quality of life for anyone who wants to use the parks," Ronecker said. "It's tough to get grants these days, and at the end of the day, we are way ahead of the game."