Skateboards and dogs!

Published on: December 17, 2010

By Penny Fletcher

APOLLO BEACH- Plans are moving forward for the skateboard park and two dog parks to be built in 2011 at the Apollo Beach Recreation Center at 664 Golf & Sea Blvd.

At a public meeting attended by about 30 people Dec. 16, three county employees showed site plans and collected public input on specifics.

The meeting was lively as young skateboarders (some sitting holding their boards) questioned the skill levels and fees at the skateboard park while other residents asked about the dog parks.

Questions like “Will we be required to wear pads and helmets?” and “How much will it cost for an annual pass?” could not be answered yet as the county has just finished the  architectural concept and is now working to select a general contractor.

“We have gotten it down to a short list of four,” said project manager William Hand from the county’s real estate department.

The county wanted to choose a builder that could do three county parks – each at 10,000-square feet- which is about the size of an Olympic swimming pool, senior engineer Chris Postiglione said. But since the land for one of the planned parks has still not been acquired, it has decided to go ahead with the plans for the two where land has been purchased.

“The final design package (for Apollo Beach) will be released around Jan. 15 and the contract will be awarded in May or June with construction beginning in early July and finished in the fall of 2011,” Hand said.

The other two parks are planned for Providence and northwest Hillsborough, although land in the northwest area has not yet been secured.

They decided to go ahead with Apollo Beach because $224,000 had already been spent on the land purchase and some site work done a little more than two years ago.

“We had other site plans before the economy went down, and they had to be redone because of present circumstances,” Hand explained.

The total cost of the skateboard park will be $500,000 and the budget for the dog parks is $441,000. This money comes from impact fees, which developers paid the county during the construction boom.

“We’re not allowed to use the money from impact fees for operating expenses, just for new construction,” Hand explained in a telephone interview the day after the meeting.

The project is being built between the existing recreation center complex and the fire station on Golf and Sea Boulevard. The skateboard portion of the park will have beginner, intermediate and advanced areas and will be all concrete with no wood or metal.

“There will be a drainage pond because more than 10,000 feet of impermeable space is being built,” Hand explained. An office building will also be constructed, possibly including a small pro shop where items associated with skateboarding may be purchased.

The office and restrooms are being built by county employees to save on costs.

Plans for the dog parks were also discussed. One park will be for small dogs and the other for large ones, said parks and recreation’s division manager Nilo Menendez.

There will be a one-half acre spot for small dogs and two acres for large dogs with play areas and agility spaces, perhaps including concrete culverts for dogs to run through.

“There will be sidewalks and pavilions for dog owners,” said Hand.

Dogs will be required to be licensed and to have had their shots, and no aggressive dogs will be permitted in either park.

There will be a park manager on duty at all times to supervise the new parks.

“You may not see construction until late spring,” said Hand. “But we’re going to start pulling trees and preparing the ground in the next two weeks.”