Pace and Bagdad parks to receive improvements through state grants

MILTON — The state recently announced the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program Special Appropriation for Children’s Recreation Grants winners. Santa Rosa County will receive two grants for park projects totaling $500,000. Both Benny Russell Park and Bagdad Recreational Park received $250,000 grants.

Each grant had a one-to-one matching requirement, meaning that the county would have to match the grant with an additional $250,000 for a total amount of $1 million, half from the county and half from the state, for the two parks.

The matching amounts for the grants will come from the recreational funds of each respective district. Benny Russell Park will receive $250,000 from District 1 and Bagdad Recreational Park will get $250,000 from District 2. Santa Rosa County applications for the grants were ranked second and fifth out of a long list of worthy projects, Shelia Fitzgerald said in and email.

Fitzgerald, director of the grants office, identified the two parks as candidates for FRDAP grant funding. Fitzgerald received approval from the commission to pursue the grants in an Aug. 14, 2018, commission meeting.

During the August commission meetings, Fitzgerald said Benny Russell plans are heavy on new development while Bagdad park plans will concentrate on renovation of existing facilities.

The final footprint, location and cost of each amenity are subject to final design and ongoing planning and coordination activities Fitzgerald said. Proposed improvements and budget estimate per location are as follows:

Benny Russell Park

All-inclusive playground area - $150,000 Picnic shelters and tables - $35,000 Multi-purpose sports field - $25,000 Fitness fun zone court - $15,000 Multi-purpose trail - $70,000 New restroom - $150,000 New parking - $25,000 Playground lighting - $15,000 ADA accessible walkways- $15,000 Bagdad Recreation Park

All-inclusive playground area - $247,000 New picnicking facilities - $19,500 Renovation of tennis courts - $5,500 Renovation of basketball courts - $3,100 Softball field dugouts and benches - $5,000 New restroom - $125,000 Parking area improvements -$16,900 Playground lighting - $28,000 ADA accessible walkways - $50,000 The next steps in the grant process are for the state to send grant agreements for the commission to review and approve, Fitzgerald said. Once the agreement is approved, the county will have until early 2021 to undertake the improvements.

Fitzgerald said there will be constant coordination with The Genesis Group who the county hired to create the master plan for Benny Russell Park. That construction should begin in early 2020. Bagdad Recreation Park may move quicker and design efforts will likely occur in-house. It is possible construction will begin as early as fall 2019.