County commissioners applaud Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources staff for finding ‘creative ways’ to expand use of existing athletic facilities

Projects at Twin Lakes Park expected to get underway this spring

Twin Lakes Park is on Clark Road. Photo courtesy Sarasota County

With the expense to be covered completely by impact fees, the Sarasota County Commission has taken a step that will make more than 8,600 additional hours of athletic playing time possible at the county’s Twin Lakes Park on Clark Road in Sarasota.

On Jan. 17, the board members unanimously approved a $529,076 contract with Himes Electric Co. of Lutz for projects scheduled to get underway early this spring. The first “is expected to provide an additional 5,475 athletic playing hours per year by adding a new lit multi-purpose field to Twin Lakes Park,” a Jan. 17 county staff memo explained. The other is anticipated to enable an extra 3,285 hours of playing time per year through the addition of lights to two-and-a-half soccer fields at Twin Lakes Park.

Chair Nancy Detert and Commissioner Charles Hines applauded the effort that went into the proposal. Addressing Carolyn N. Brown, director of the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, and her staff, Hines said, “Thanks for trying to find creative ways, through lighting … to expand use of the parks that we already have.”

The process began in the 2016 fiscal year, the staff memo explained, when the commission authorized four athletic field lighting and construction projects “to increase user capacity” at two county parks and one Sarasota County School Board property.

Along with the work at Twin Lakes Park, the projects are as follows, the memo says:

  • Lighting on two soccer fields at Tatum Ridge Elementary School in Sarasota, which would add 2,190 hours of evening playing time.
  • Lighting for two soccer fields at the Englewood Sports Complex, which would expand playing time at night by 1,095 hours.

Design on all four initiatives has been completed, the memo noted. “To minimize overall project cost, the County executed a contract with Musco Sport Lighting, LLC for the direct purchase of lighting fixtures, poles and controls, thus avoiding sales tax costs, bonding fees on a higher construction value, and potentially contractor markup costs on these materials,” the memo explained.

Musco is based in Oskaloosa, Iowa, according to its website.

A chart shows the changes in anticipated costs for the four projects. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Five vendors submitted bids for the Twin Lakes Park projects, the memo noted, but they exceeded the county’s approved budget by 7.7%, or $100,185. Those bids ranged from $529,000 to $949,000, the memo added. As a result, county staff revised estimates for the other two projects approved in the 2016 fiscal year, ending up with an expected increase of $645,698, the memo said.

Wright Construction of Fort Myers had the highest bid for the Twin Lakes projects, the Procurement Department document for the project shows.

Altogether, increase for the four projects is $745,883, the memo pointed out. Nonetheless, the funding will come out of North and South County Park Impact Fees, the memo said.

Carolyn Brown. File photo

Construction contracts for the remaining two projects will be brought to the commission at a later date, the memo noted, with construction planned to commence in early summer.

After the commissioners unanimously approved the Twin Lakes Park projects, Hines pointed out, “We already have increased population, increased demands for use [of the parks]. … Land’s expensive; development’s expensive,” he continued, so the county should pursue efforts to make the best use of existing facilities — including through new cooperative agreements with the Sarasota County School Board.

Chair Detert concurred with Hines about the expense of new property. “The School Board has land,” she said. “So it makes perfect sense for us to chip in our portion [of the cost of extra amenities]” and cooperate with the School Board members, “which you have done,” Detert told Brown of the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department.