Pinellas News

Tarpon tap brakes on Discovery Park upgrades over cost

TARPON SPRINGS - Discovery Park is in need of a facelift, but city commissioners would like a closer look at the procedure’s details before moving forward.
At the request of Commissioner Jeff Larsen, the park improvements are on hold until commissioners can review an itemized list of the six figures worth of equipment slated for purchase as part of the project.
“I agree that the park does need some repair and some replacements and so forth,” Larsen said at last week’s commission meeting, “but I’m concerned about the price tag on this agenda item: $162,750.”
Discovery Park was constructed in 1997 as a castle-themed playground at the Tarpon Sports Complex, off Jasmine Road. Improvements were anticipated and $145,000 to pay for them was written into the city budget for fiscal 2013.
The Public Works Department says some of the Discovery Park equipment will be rebuilt. Other items, however, will be replaced, like the balance beam, tube slide and freestanding space net.
In addition, the Tot Lot will be redesigned.
Larsen, who lives near Discovery Park and spends a lot of time there with his two sons, said commissioners should see each item’s price before giving the project a green light.
“I don’t spend a lot of time buying playground equipment, so maybe I’m way off, but I’m not sure how we’re getting to that dollar figure.” he said, referring to the current $162,750 cost estimate.
Public Works Director Tom Funcheon said much of the cost is for labor and construction. Working on an existing playground while making sure safety requirements are being met adds to the technical expertise needed.
Leather and Associates, a New York-based playground design and construction firm, was the lower of the two bidders on the park project, which is an added benefit, Funcheon said.
“The advantage of it is that the lowest bidder was the original designer of the park.”
While Larsen’s call for the price list drew unanimous support, Commissioner Chris Alahouzos said, “I don’t think this is a place for us to cut corners.”
Alahouzos stressed the importance of maintaining the quality of work and equipment at the park. Given the millions the city spends on other projects, $163,000 for children is not out of line, he said.
“The kids deserve to have that,” he said. “I think it’s very, very important that we provide them with the necessary tools to grow and be kids.”
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