On May 11th, the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency (IA) voted to delay a decision on the Northeast Park project after concerns were voiced about the $18 million cost and the scope of the project.
The cost of the park was originally estimated to be $12 million, however, as with a host of other Blueprint projects, construction costs have increased given the recent national economic conditions.
The Northeast Park – which has been in the works for over 15 years – was detailed in the agenda as an $18 million project located on a 50 acre parcel near Roberts Elementary School and adjacent to Centerville Road.
The item was considered following a Blueprint IA budget workshop which took place earlier in the day and featured a contentious debate related to increased cost estimates for a host of Blueprint projects.
After the budget workshop, the Blueprint IA held a meeting to address other issues including the Northeast park.
After making a motion to move forward with the staff recommendation, Leon County District 4 Commissioner Brian Welch made an impassioned plea for support from his colleagues.
An important part of the Welch motion removed consideration of a controversial connecting road between Centerville Road and Welaunee Blvd. The Killearn Homeowners Association recently spoke out against the construction of a connecting road.
After Welch’s comments, the elected officials began a discussion about the project, which focused on the scope and the $18 million cost of the park.
City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox and Mayor Dailey criticized the cost of the Northeast park, noting the recent construction of a 50 acre park in Southwood that cost the City of Tallahassee approximately $4 million.
In addition, Dailey argued that the park was created to facilitate travel baseball tournaments which he said was not appropriate for a neighborhood park that would be located on a two-lane canopy road. He also said he was not sure the scope of the park matched the desires of the surrounding neighborhoods.
During the debate, Dailey, as did other elected officials, made it clear he supported a Northeast park.
Commissioner Welch pushed back against Dailey’s argument that the project was a “regional park” designed to facilitate sports tourism. Welch noted that the staff and consultants hired by Blueprint designed an “area park.” He also added that the proposed park was almost identical to the City park in Southwood.
After the discussion among elected officials, Commissioner Bill Proctor made a substitute motion that would cap the cost of the project at $12 million and delay action on the park until June 15th. The motion failed with only Mayor John Dailey, City Commissioner Dianne William-Cox and Leon County Commissioner Proctor voting for the measure.
However, the original motion to move forward with the $18 million cost and the original scope of the park also failed when put to a vote. Mayor John Dailey, City Commissioner Dianne William-Cox, City Commissioner Jack Porter, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor and Leon County Commissioner Carolyn Cummings voted against moving forward with the original staff recommendation.
The final vote on the project – which passed – delayed action on the park until June 15th and requested that Blueprint staff bring back various options related to the scope and cost of the project – there were no parameters put on the cost of the project..
The final vote also removed consideration of the controversial connecting road between Centerville Road and Welaunee Blvd.
The issue is scheduled to be included on the June 15th Blueprint IA agenda.