A new 5-acre park estimated to cost more than $5 million is coming to Celebration – though official approval won’t take place until August.
Plans for the community park call for two distinct zones: a “competition area” with three sports fields and the “public area” complete with a pavilion, trails and open green space.
Osceola County is allocating about $2.1 million in park impact fees to pay for the design and construction of the project. The remaining $3.1 will be paid by the Celebration Residential Owners Association (CROA).
The CROA will own and operate the community park. It will also be responsible for all maintenance costs and future improvements, according to the proposed agreement.
The park will be accessible to all county residents and the contract requires that everyone pay the same fees to use facilities like ball fields and the pavilion, regardless if they are Celebration residents.
Park construction is expected to take about 16 months to complete once the project is approved.
But elected officials delayed an official green light Monday after some questioned a 25-year clause in the proposed agreement.
The clause requires CROA to “ensure appropriate public useage and access to the facility” for at least 25 years.
Commission Chair Cheryl Grieb said she wants language revised so all residents retain access to the park in perpetuity, or forever, since public funds are being used to pay for it.
Allowing access to the park’s trails was also discussed.
“My concern is 25 years in, they come and put a gate or something, and that trail is now cut off,” said County Commissioner Viviana Janer.
The park may be inside Celebration, but the idea is for residents across western Osceola County to use it, said county planners.
“The land is just available there and they (the CROA) are willing to partner with us to fund it,” said Assistant Community Development Administrator Susan Caswell after the meeting.
The county collects park impact fees on each new piece of development. Money goes to three geographic zones and the county uses a master plan adopted last year to determine where new facilities are needed to keep up with population growth.
“We looked at where population growth was going to happen and what kind of park facilities were in these areas,” said Caswell. “And there were needs in that area (around Celebration).”
A community center and ball fields in Campbell City, another underserved community in district 1, are budgeted for the next fiscal year, Caswell added.
County Commissioner Peggy Choudhry was not at Monday’s meeting, so the board chose to delay a vote on the Celebration park until August.
In other business
Osceola County agreed to spend up to $200,000 on June 3 for third-party water testing in and around the J.E.D. Solid Waste Facility east of St. Cloud where the coal ash is stored. That work is being done by Jones Edmunds, an engineering firm.
The county is also paying for Doug Manson, an environmental lawyer, who is tasked with reviewing all possible compliance and contract violations at the J.E.D. landfill.
Manson told commissioners Monday that in addition to checking for compliance, he is looking at the treatment of leachate – or liquid garbage run-off - water quality issues and coal ash storage at the landfill.
Manson and Ken Vogel, a consultant from Jones Edmunds, will decide if testing needs to increase.
Currently, water sampling is only required by the FDEP twice a year at the landfill.
If extra monitoring is necessary, the two groups will figure out where it should take place and how often.
Vogel said he would also speak with a University of Florida professor about the latest scientific information available on coal ash disposal at solid waste facilities.
Neither Manson nor Vogel said when their research might be complete.
“This type of work is intensive, it’s complex, and unfortunately, it takes time,” said Osceola County Public Works Director Danielle Slaterpryce, who is overseeing the project. “It’s very difficult for us to tell you today – this is the solution.”