Wednesday, April 25, 2018
News Roundup

Pinellas Commission to consider taxing district for kids recreation in East Lake

CLEARWATER — The Pinellas County Commission is slated to consider Tuesday whether to create a special taxing district to fund children's sports and recreation in the East Lake area.

The proposed ordinance would create the East Lake Recreation Services District and allow the Commission to levy up to a quarter-mill — 25 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value — as a dedicated funding source for the private, nonprofit East Lake Youth Sports Association.

The boundaries would mirror those of the existing East Lake Tarpon Fire District.

The tax would bring in an estimated $575,000 a year, allowing ELYSA to tackle a laundry list of repairs, bring its fees in line with nearby sports clubs and create a reserve fund for future projects, association president Rick Watson told commissioners last month. Board members said they were open to the idea but asked Watson to bring a more detailed projected budget to Tuesday's meeting.

A public hearing is set for 6 p.m. at 315 Court St., Clearwater.

For the last three decades, ELYSA has been the only provider of large-scale, organized recreation for kids in East Lake, an unincorporated area in northeast Pinellas with a population of about 30,000.

The association's three primary sports organizations are East Lake Little League Baseball; East Lake Youth Football and Cheerleading; and the West Florida Flames Soccer Club.

The group owns and operates the East Lake Youth Sports Complex off Old Keystone Road which has six baseball fields, two football fields, three soccer fields and concessions. In 2011, the association got a $1 million county grant to develop a 100-acre parcel just east of the Keystone Road facility. The East Lake Meadows opened a year later and currently features two soccer fields.

The original site needs new lights, a new irrigation system and repairs to existing buildings, Watson said. The Meadows Complex needs restrooms, and both sites need parking lot repairs.

The association also wants to hire an executive director, build a lacrosse field at the Meadows and create a lacrosse organization.

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