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Splish, splash: Dade City park intended as gift to area children

City commissioners on Tuesday agreed to purchase land for the park and looked over early plans for the site.

DADE CITY — A city land purchase and a donation will make way for a splash park that Dade City leaders say will bring a generational shot in the arm to the area.

Dade City Commissioners agreed Tuesday to purchase a key piece of land at 37732 Church St., on the outskirts of downtown. It’s near the Dade City Chamber of Commerce building on Eighth Street, south of Meridian Avenue and west of Seventh Street. The 2.23-acre site also sits at the head of Dade City’s Hardy Trail, already planned for an extension, some of which will be funded by $250,000 of Pasco Tourist Development Council dollars.

The property purchase comes at a hefty price tag of $800,000, but a discounted one based on an April 2018 appraisal of $1.168 million. As part of the contract, the property owner, local businessman Otto Weitzenkorn, will make a charitable donation of a portion of the land valued at $368,000. After closing, set for completion by Dec. 31, a new appraisal will be done to meet IRS regulations to treat the donation as charitable for tax purposes, according to city documents.

“This is going to impact the city for generations to come,” Dade City Commissioner Scott Black said.

Along with approving the contract, commissioners looked over conceptual drawings of the property, acknowledging that design details still need discussion, Commissioner Jim Shive pointed out.

“I think it is going to be a game-changer,” he said.

The drawings showed the splash pad, a handicapped-accessible playground, an amphitheater, a bike shelter to enhance the Hardy Trail entrance and concessions.

The purchase is a kickoff to a process years in the making to bring a slash pad to the city’s downtown, Mayor Camille Hernandez said. Mayor Pro-Tem Eunice Penix viewed it as an opportunity to provide more positive things for kids to do in Dade City.

“I think it’s time to do something for our youth,” she said.

Commissioner Nicole Deese Newlon voted against the purchase, citing concerns about buying the land using general fund reserves when a park could be built on city land that once held the city hall and police department.

Her no vote was for financial reasons, she said, not one against a splash pad park, saying it’s “past time” the city did something for its youth.

“I believe we should have one,” she said.