Multipurpose fields planned at Pine Trails Park

Parkland is likely to add baseball and multipurpose fields in the 30-acres of land that is yet to be built at Pine Trails Park.

At a City Commission workshop, officials discussed various options for phase four of the park. The discussion followed a request from the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board to complete work on the park before construction of park space begins within the Wedge.

“Many originally planned elements are no longer needed in the park,” Community Services Director Scott Davidoff said. “We have new needs and new trends based on population growth.”

The city has a severe shortage of baseball fields, Davidoff said. “The city currently has only four baseball fields for about 400 little league and travel baseball participants. Little league is forced to practice on multipurpose fields while travel baseball has very limited field availability during little league season. Due to available fields and parking, the city is unable to hold large tournaments.”

Davidoff also spoke about the pressing need for more multipurpose fields. “Travel programs are unable to grow due to lack of field space. Local schools want to utilize city fields for sports programs and our lacrosse program continues to grow. Over 2,700 participants utilize our multipurpose fields for organized sports.”

The city is currently working with the county to see if it could do wetland mitigation, which is mandatory, in another location. If the city succeeds in its efforts, it would be able to add four baseball fields and an equal number of multipurpose fields in the 30-acre area. If wetland mitigation has to be done on site, the city will have to be content with four baseball fields and two multipurpose fields.

Mayor Michael Udine said the county’s decision would play a major role in shaping the city’s plans for the park. “That is going to be the key; if we can push the lake somewhere else, we can utilize the space the way we want to. It is important that we finish construction here before going to another park.”

Vice Mayor Mark Weissman wanted the city to take into account the kind of park facilities needed in the Wedge area before finalizing plans for Pine Trails Park. “Once the Wedge is fully developed, the city’s population will grow by 35 percent. It is important to take that into consideration. I’d rather be ahead of the curve than play catch up.”

Commissioner Dave Rosenof wanted staff to take into account the needs of special needs children and the sports buddies programs that pairs typical children with their peers with special needs. “It shouldn’t be a one-sport facility. We should make the park buddy-friendly without making it a buddy park.”

Commissioner Jared Moskowitz wanted the city to respond to current needs. “The need of our residents is what should dictate the way we go,” he said. “If the need is five baseball fields, then that is what the city should aim for.”

No money has been set aside for the project but Udine was confident that the city would be able to find the funds required. “This will soon become a major priority for the city as we go though the budget process. All these developers are soon going to start to pay park impact fees.”

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