Members of the Heritage Park Foundation have been busy to show Pasco County Commissioners that residents are serious about getting renovations at the Land O’ Lakes Community Center started sooner rather than later.
Now, they’re turning to the public for help.
Sandy Graves, the nonprofit foundation’s president, was out last Saturday collecting signatures during Acme Outdoor Movie’s free event. She might head out again this Saturday, Aug. 6, when is the show on tap.
“I was so impressed,” she said about the free showing.
Events like Acme’s free movies are exactly what the is trying to bring to the community center. The hope is the renovation will make the park a more attractive and functional destination for families.
The petition drive being undertaken is designed to show county commissioners that area residents would like to see the release of money earmarked for renovations.
Fearing the potential for increased staffing and maintenance expenses if the estimated $1.8 million renovation project moves forward, county officials did not include the project in the upcoming fiscal year’s budget.
Some residents, however, think the county should give the green light now. This is especially so since the money to build is in place, funded through park impact fees collected in the Land O’ Lakes area.
Impact fees are charged to developers to offset the impacts construction can have on infrastructure and services, such as parks.
Under the county law, park impact fees can only be spent on construction and related expenses. They must be spent in the community in which they were collected. This means the money earmarked for the community center can only be spent in Land O’ Lakes.
Under the renovation proposal, the redesigned park would offer more parking, have a new concession and restroom building, a new playground, reworked ball fields and even an amphitheater and trail. The foundation has been raising money to pay for the amphitheater and trail for quite some time.
The petition drive began in July and is still gaining steam, Graves said. A contest was recently held to see who could collect the most signatures. The winner, Richard C. Wade, received a $25 gift certificate courtesy of .
“I’ve always been civic minded,” Wade said. “That project is a good project.”
Wade said it’s important for residents to get involved on the local level and speak their voices.
“I think a lot of our local politicians think they know what’s good for us, and they don’t,” he said. “(We need to get) a little more done at the grassroots level where there’s no politics involved.”
Wade said he collected about three pages of signatures just by walking around his neighborhood.
The petitions will be presented to the county soon, Graves said. More contests are also possible, she added.
To start collecting signatures, just print out the PDF in the photo section of this article.
Completed petitions can be sent to the foundation at PO Box 1473, Land O’ Lakes, FL 34639.
For more information, call 813-996-3011.