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Oldsmar to vote on playground, development

Little by little and penny by penny, the organizers of the Friendship Playground drive are inching toward their goals.

The site plan for the 15,000-square-foot playground is scheduled for consideration by the City Council tonight, one of two much-discussed projects the council is supposed to vote on.

City Clerk Cheryl Mortenson, who is leading the drive to build the playground, is not as concerned about what the council might do as she is about collecting enough money, tools and volunteers to begin construction in April.

But little by little it's all coming together, she said Monday.

Last week Oldsmar Elementary School pupils, wanting to help with the playground many of them will end up using, collected pennies for the project.

They turned in so many pennies it took officials at the AmeriBank six hours to count them all, Mortenson said.

The children "really showed us all," she said. When the counting was done, the pennies totaled more than $1,000. That leaves a mere $20,000 to go, she said.

Over the weekend Mortenson and others working on the playground effort met with a representative of the New York architect who designed the wooden structure. The company, founded by famed architect Robert Leathers, has built hundreds of similar playgrounds around the country, and now trains local volunteers how to organize their efforts.

"We learned how to coordinate 500 people," Mortenson said. "That was blowing our minds."

In addition to volunteers and money, she's still trying to round up tools such as drills and circular saws for the work crews to use in building the playground.

While the drive to build the playground on five acres at R.

E. Olds Park has been going on for just over a year, the other project the council is scheduled to discuss tonight has a longer and more tangled history.

Tampa lawyer Ed Rood Sr. has tried since the early 1980s to develop his land south of Tampa Road near the Harbor Palms subdivision, but has run into trouble with every plan. However, his latest proposal, presented by Oldsmar architect Jim Bradley, won a mostly favorable recommendation last week from the city Planning Board.

That set of plans, including a controversial request for a strip of commercial zoning along Tampa Road, is what the council is supposed to review tonight.

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. today in its chambers behind City Hall at 100 State St. W.

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