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NEWBERRY – The City of Newberry plans to spend an estimated $3 million over the course of eight years as an investment in the existing infrastructure of The Easton Newberry Sports Complex, Jimmy Durden Park, Freddie Warmack Park, Lois Forte Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and Park, and the City Municipal Building.

Newberry expects their share of the incremental funding from the half-cent sales tax referendum, approved by voters in 2016, to be approximately $2.4 million, which will pay for the anticipated improvements. Wild Spaces Public Places (WSPP) is the depository for those funds in Alachua County and the funds are earmarked for recreation improvements. Funds will be received yearly for the next eight years by each of the nine Alachua County cities.

“In 2017 Newberry [also] received an additional $400,000 in WSPP funding,” said Interim Recreation Director Travis Parker. “[Those funds came] from Alachua County and are intended for construction of multi-purpose turf facilities at the Easton Newberry Sports Complex,” he said. The total of both WSPP grants is expected to bring $3 million in revenue into the City’s coffers during the funding period.

Prior to voter approval of the 2016 referendum, the County asked each municipality to create a list of planned projects. Newberry’s focus was on infrastructure improvement projects at existing parks, rather than new projects, said Parker.

At that time, Newberry City Commissioners told staff that their focus should be on projects to improve and maintain City parks and recreational facilities.

At a January commission meeting, staff requested further clarification on establishing a final list for approval. Based on their direction, staff further refined the list into the proposed final project list presented on Feb. 25.

The project plan reflected the Commission’s desire to focus on existing infrastructure, with the exception of three projects, explained Parker during his commission presentation.

The projects providing additions to park facilities include a beach volleyball court at Jimmy Durden Park, construction of a band shell at Lois Forte Park, and the addition of multi-purpose fields at Easton Newberry Sports Complex.

The list and associated costs of the remaining projects recommended and approved by Commissioners at the Feb. 25 meeting include $255,900 for Freddie Warmack Park, $167,200 for Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, $86,400 for the City Municipal Building, $69,400 for Lois Forte Park, $311,400 for Jimmy Durden Park, and $2,163,100 at the Easton Newberry Sports Complex. The total of the projects come to a little more than $3 million.

Proposed enhancements to Freddie Warmack Park include renovations to the existing baseball field, basketball court and concessions areas, improvements to security/parking area lighting and improvements to tables, park benches, trash receptacles and fencing.

Visitors to the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and Park can expect to see a renovation to the basketball court as well as improvements to restroom facilities, the parking area, playground equipment, benches, fencing and the grilling area.

The inside of the City Municipal Building will receive a kitchen renovation, floor refinishing, painting and restroom and storage closet renovations. Roof replacement, roof fascia replacement, exterior trim paint, plus improvements to the parking area, exterior landscape, lighting and signage can be expected for the outside of the building.

The Lois Forte Park will receive parking area improvements, landscaping and signage, additional walkways, additional park benches and trash receptacles, along with the addition of an amphitheater.

The Jimmy Durden Park will, much like all the other facilities, receive enhancements to the parking area, additional walkways and multiple field renovations to include a renovation of the existing basketball court.

Lastly, the Easton-Newberry Sports Complex will receive enhancements to the interior roads, parking, walkways, and lighting. This complex will also see additional multipurpose fields to accommodate the growth of youth sports in Newberry.

Commissioners unanimously approved the list of items presented for each park. Now the City must develop a program to implement the project plans.

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