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Old September 2nd, 2007, 04:29 PM   #1
FloridaFuture
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New Tampa Gets Bids For Nature Park On Dona Michelle Drive

City Gets Bids For Nature Park On Dona Michelle Drive

By LAURA KINSLER The Tampa Tribune

Published: Sep 2, 2007

NEW TAMPA - Mayor Pam Iorio's fiscal year 2008 budget includes $2.7 million to build the city's largest nature park at the end of Dona Michelle Drive.

But the city's parks and recreation department plans to spend just a fraction of that amount on the 232-acre New Tampa Nature Park.

The park design calls for an extensive network of trails, connections to the county's adjacent Flatwoods Park, picnic areas and a 3,000-square-foot nature center to house exhibits, educational resources and restrooms. None of it will be built in the first phase.

The first phase includes just an entrance road, parking area and one paved trail.

The city opened bids Tuesday for the scaled-down project and is evaluating the apparent low bid of $558,476 by QGS Development of Lithia. Most of the remaining bids came in at $800,000 or less. Construction is scheduled to start in the fall.

Parks planner Jim Valentine said the bulk of the project funding will be set aside to buy additional parkland in New Tampa. The department still is hanging out hope for a regional park in K-Bar Ranch.

The city bought the nature park property for $3 million in 2001 using the state's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program and the Florida Community Trust Fund. The city parks and recreation department was able to double the size of the park by adding land from the city's water department and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

"Not many people even know there's a nature park there because they don't ever drive to the end of Dona Michelle - and I don't blame them," project manager Brad Suder said. "But soon, there will be a good reason to."

Reporter Laura Kinsler can be reached at (813) 865-4844 or lkinsler@tampatrib.com.

http://pasco.tbo.com/pasco/MGBIM8ZV26F.html
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