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Clearwater council to vote on Little League ballpark, youth football field and lakeside trail

CLEARWATER — A reworked Little League ballpark, a newly built lakeside trail and a home field for a youth football team: Clearwater is swimming in new proposals for parks and outdoor spending.

The City Council is expected to approve work or accept grants for each of these projects at its meeting tonight, allowing the trail and athletics fields to spring ahead. Even nicer: All of the projects will likely be paid for with county, state or federal funding.

Here's a look at all three:

The North Greenwood Athletic Fields

Three years ago, one of the only places in North Greenwood to throw a ball around, the Phillip Jones Field, was closed due to old landfill debris edging too close to the surface.

That left the North Greenwood Panthers, a group of 270 football players and cheerleaders between the ages of 4 and 15, effectively homeless. Every game day, the team had to pack all its stuff into the back of a U-Haul truck.

Now, thanks to a $300,000 federal Community Development Block Grant and a $25,000 donation from Clearwater For Youth, the city is looking to open its replacement in a grass parking lot near the old Jack Russell Stadium.

The first lighted field for football or soccer, off Palmetto Street and N Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, could be completed in June.

Lake Bellevue Trail

This mile-long trail would loop around Lake Bellevue, the namesake for the neighborhood sometimes called South Greenwood. Just south of Lakeview Road, the 10-foot-wide trail would link the Ed Wright and Ross Norton parks.

A state grant for recreational trails and Penny for Pinellas funds will split the cost of the $400,000 trail. Parks and recreation director Kevin Dunbar said it could one day connect to the sprawling Pinellas Trail.

Sid Lickton Complex

The seven ballfields here on Saturn Avenue have hosted Little League baseball and girls softball for 50 years, and city officials had planned to wait another half a decade before starting their renovation.

But with a planned remodeling due for the nearby water-treatment plant that could tear up part of the complex, officials now want to start pitching ideas for the ballpark much sooner.

The council will vote Thursday on whether officials should spend up to $150,000 in Penny for Pinellas funds on surveys and a site design for the $3 million renovation.

Though the work could potentially can the Little League's 2013 season, it could allow the fields to stay open for years.

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or dharwell@tampabay.com. Send letters to the editor at tampabay.com/letters.

Clearwater council to vote on Little League ballpark, youth football field and lakeside trail 04/04/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 8:00pm]
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