City officials said Wednesday that two things top their list for Highlander Park’s 20-year plan:
- relocating Dunedin Fire Station 61; and
- constructing a concession stand for the baseball fields.
Officials updated residents on a plan to dramatically redevelop the Highlander Park complex, answering questions that were raised when the changes were unveiled a month ago.
Officials said city money has already been set aside for the first two changes. Early budget talks reveal that $1.5 million is likely to be approved for the new fire station.
A couple of the residents’ more pressing concerns centered on the new fire station’s location, basically overtaking the recycling center. Would any parking spaces be lost? Where would the recycling center go?
According to plans, the station's new main entrance and exit will open to Michigan Avenue. The recycling center would occupy the former station.
“What happens right now, if there’s an activity going on at the park … there’s so many cars parked along the street (Eckert Drive) … we’re having a lot of difficulty getting out,” Fire Chief Bud Meyer said. On Michigan, "we don’t think we’re going to have that problem.”
The relocation will speed up emergency response time for firefighters and free up interior space in the park. Officials admitted the moves would result in a few lost parking spots, but they would eventually be replaced.
Parks and Recreation Director Vince Gizzi went into more detail about the proposed changes.
Some of the main objectives of the plan include:
- Renovating and rebuilding the existing Little League facilities, including complete reconstruction of the concession stand and building a multifield baseball complex.
- Replacing the outdated playground with a modern recreation area.
- Building new tennis courts, with courts specifically designed for youth players.
- Constructing a state-of-the-art aquatic facility, which will house pools, a lazy river and a fitness center. It also incorporates the existing Sprayground into its design.
Gizzi said the revised Master Plan will be presented to the city commission in October for final approval and budgeting.