Saturday, February 24, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco commissioners approve SunWest Park budget, amenities

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County commissioners Tuesday settled on a plan for SunWest Park in Aripeka after hearing a range of options, including one that would have added $2.5 million to the project's budget.

At one point, Commissioner Ted Schrader quipped of the proposed changes, "It seems to me all we're doing is adding amenities."

Schrader wasn't a fan of the numerous options, which sought to redefine the park's original intent as a beach and wakeboard park mostly for local residents.

Commissioners spent close to an hour between the morning and afternoon sessions poring over options, from beaches, parking and a splash pool for young children to a 20-foot-wide boardwalk and 40 beach volleyball courts with tournament-quality sand.

In the end, they opted for the boardwalk, beaches, and parking and restrooms at the south end.

The facility also comes with volleyball courts but not with the high-ticket kind seen in tournaments. A wakeboard facility approved earlier is included as well.

However, they passed on restrooms at the park's north end and a splash pad.

"I've never seen a splash pad at a lake or at a beach," Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the $3.8 million contract with Cleveland Construction Inc. Commission Chairman Jack Mariano, the commission's most ardent supporter, voted against the plan, favoring additional amenities.

"The bathrooms at the north end are critical," he said.

Earlier, Mariano and Schrader sparred over a range of proposals that would have raised the project's $3.4 million budget by millions. The volleyball sand alone, which has a high silica content for a softer feel, was estimated at $1 million.

However commissioners settled on a $500,000 boost in spending, which allows $130,000 in reserves.

In other business, the county hired an assistant administrator to replace one who was fired after only four days on the job.

Catherine Pearson, an assistant administrator from Citrus County, will replace Erik Bush who was fired May 9 after starting work on May 6 as Pasco's assistant county administrator in charge of public services.

County administrator Michele Baker said only that Bush "was not a good fit." He was hired to replace Suzanne Salichs who announced her retirement in February.

Pearson will start work June 2, earning $110,000 a year.

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