VENICE — The City Council approved buying land for a public park in North Venice after a presentation showing the city’s findings for a possible space.
During the Council meeting on Nov. 16, Assistant City Manager James Clinch and Michael Wendroff, the North East Venice Park Stakeholders chair, presented a parcel of land to build the public park, which would include amenities identified from resident surveys.
The stakeholders group sent out a survey to residents, asking what they are looking for in a public park.
The results found residents wanted both active and passive activities, including walking trails, a playground, a dog park and pickleball courts.
From these results and considerations for a possible site, city staff searched for land that could accommodate the different aspects wanted.
“Making sure that it gets used is critical,” Clinch said about finding accessible land.
City staff located a piece of land off of Laurel Road owned by Border Road Investments.
Clinch said it was the most suitable for the needs of a public park with the amenities wanted.
He asked Council to approve the buying of this land from Border Road Investments for $1.5 million.
However, the contract with Border Road Investments would be contingent on approval of Sarasota County park impact fee funding.
He said once the contract was approved by Council to move forward, the formal request for funds would go to the county. The county has around $4 million in funds available in park impact fees, according to Clinch.
Council Member Helen Moore asked about any other competing projects for the $4 million park impact fees.
Clinch said there were a couple of projects already funded and some other projects included in the 5-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
“None of them are to this scale,” Clinch said.
He said while there are some other community wants, those projects would be smaller than the North Venice public park project.
Mayor Ron Feinsod wondered if the project would be impacted financially by Wellfield Park.
Clinch said in the CIP there were no impact fees allocated to Wellfield Park, so “at this point no, but that could always change depending on the policy decisions for our CIP moving forward.”
While Council Member Jim Boldt did not have a lot of prior knowledge about the specifics of the project, he said “this is a long time coming.”
Council then approved the contract with Border Road Investments for the $1.5 million plot of land.
“Everybody is excited about it,” Council Member Mitzie Fiedler said.