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Pinellas Park considers Broderick Park additions

Residents will have at least two opportunities to cast their opinions on a possible expansion of Broderick Park that would include a recreation center and a swimming pool.

The Pinellas Park Recreation Board has tentatively scheduled two town meetings in January.

Broderick Park, on 62nd Street north of 66th Avenue N, is considered a passive park offering picnic areas, a softball field, an open play area and an all-purpose court on 3.7 acres.

The Recreation Department is considering a multimillion-dollar complex on an adjacent undeveloped 7.3 acres that the city has owned since the mid-1980s. The new center could include:

An Olympic-sized swimming pool that could be used for competition, possibly in conjunction with Pinellas Park, Osceola and Dixie Hollins high schools; or a Junior Olympic pool, similar to the Skyview Municipal Pool at 58th Street and 90th Avenue N.

A family water attraction that could include a water playground for young children similar to those found at Adventure Island.

A recreational complex similar to the Ronald P. Forbes Recreation Center could include a gymnasium, an arts and crafts room, an exercise room, a game room, a multipurpose room and an attached or adjacent bath house for the pool areas.

Tennis and/or sports courts.

Parking for several hundred cars.

Debate during a joint workshop Monday between the Pinellas Park City Council and the city's recreation board focused on whether such a project would destroy the neighborhood character of Broderick Park by attracting large numbers of outside users.

Also at issue is the status of a portion of 66th Avenue N that divides the southern third of the undeveloped parcels. If a new recreational complex is approved, the council may close that portion of 66th Avenue to allow full use of the 7.3 acres.

Council member Charles Williams questioned whether the board's proposals for the park are too ambitious. "This is supposed to be a neighborhood park for the people south of Park Boulevard. This is a lot more grandiose than I had anticipated," he said.

"I don't see us spending $1.5-million just for one neighborhood," countered council member Patricia Bailey. "When we bought the extra property, it was with the idea of enhancing swimming services and providing major recreation for the city."

Bailey said the Skyview pool is often at capacity and turns away swimmers as early as one hour after each day's opening.

Mayor Cecil Bradbury said the Broderick site "needs something," adding the city would seek community support before committing to a bond issue to finance expansion of Broderick Park.

"There is no question that we need another Forbes Center on the south side," said council member William Mischler. "We need to go out to the community and see how they feel."

Expansion of facilities at Broderick Park probably would occur in phases, council members said.

Costs for constructing the proposed recreational center are tentative, said Diane Richards, the city's principal planner, as she narrated videos taken at pool complexes in other cities.

An outdoor Olympic-sized pool (50 meters) could cost $2-million while a 25-meter pool could cost about $1-million. The cost of an indoor recreation building could range from $460,000 for a gymnasium to $2.3-million for something similar to the Forbes Center. A smaller version of the Forbes Center could cost about $1.3-million, she said.

Financing sources for the project include a bond issue, state or federal grants and private-public partnerships.

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