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Budget paces Oldsmar growth

The city's proposed budget is stuffed with projects to help keep up with Oldsmar's growth boom: new parks, improvements to water and sewer facilities and the addition of five city employees.

City Manager Bruce Haddock is proposing a $21.2-million budget for fiscal year 2001-02, an increase of $519,000 from the current fiscal year.

About 33 percent of the proposed annual budget will be spent on capital outlay projects, which is higher than the 18 percent to 23 percent the city has spent on such projects during the past decade or so.

The proposed budget calls for several parks projects geared toward creating more neighborhood parks. The city is planning to continue building a large preserve, improve a neighborhood park and build two parks north of Tampa Road, where several new subdivisions have been built during the past few years.

"We are actually looking at doing some development north of Tampa Road," Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Rives said. "There is a big population growth up there, and it will give the residents an opportunity to get to a park without jumping in a car."

The first park north of Tampa Road will be the one next to the new fire station on Pine Avenue N. That park will have a basketball court, a playground and a picnic pavilion. The city also will begin the design phase of a 10-acre park on Forest Lakes Boulevard to include a playground, open space and picnic areas.

"We are trying to put neighborhood parks in the neighborhoods," Rives said.

As more young families move into the city, the demand for park and recreation facilities increases, Rives said. The city has a population of 11,910, with about 1,700 family households that have children under age 18, according to the new census figures.

"The bottom line: They are looking for quality of life," Rives said.

The largest capital improvement projects proposed for the next fiscal year are a new water booster pump station, a new headworks and influent pump station and improvements to Bicentennial Park.

The $2.6-million water booster pump station and storage facility will help solve the city's problems with low water pressure.

The $880,000 headworks and influent pump station will replace 30-year-old equipment at the city's sewer and reclaimed water facility. The headworks is the primary treatment equipment at the plant used to remove grit and non-biodegradable material. The influent pump station receives the city's sewer waste at the plant.

"They are becoming a real maintenance problem," said city public works director John Mulvihill.

The $570,000 improvements to Bicentennial Park will include a concrete pad with skateboarding obstacles known as a skate wave, a basketball court, tennis court, walking trail, picnic shelters, parking lot and fencing.

The proposed budget also includes the following new positions: a firefighter/paramedic, a street maintenance operator, a library assistant, a parks maintenance operator and a recreation leader.

Other big-ticket items include designing a new $2.5-million library; beginning to build a $1.8-million fire station; and $100,000 in improvements to the Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve to pay for a park entrance, a canoe launch, restrooms and trail design.

"There are a number of significant improvements which will be of long-term benefit to the city," Haddock wrote in a summary letter for the recently released proposed budget.

Significant projects

Water booster pump station $2,600,000

Headworks and influent pump station $880,000

Bicentennial Park improvements $570,000

Buy 14 acres of parkland and beach area $250,000

Design of new library $161,500

Improvements to Mobbly Bayou Preserve $100,000