Work on Manatee's new Conservatory Park 40 percent complete, official says

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 27, 2012 

MANATEE -- Work has been going well on the area's new Conservatory Park, which is about 40 percent complete, Manatee County officials said Wednesday.

Construction on the $3.4 million property began earlier this year and is slated for completion Feb. 19, according to Tom Yarger, construction services manager for the county's Property Management Department.

The project has gone "very smooth," Yarger said of the park, located north of University Parkway and west of Whitfield Avenue.

"There's been quite a bit of progress, actually," said Candie Pedersen, design and landscape superintendent for the county parks department.

During the last couple of weeks, the 55-acre park's pavilions were nearing completion and workers were in the process of laying out the park trail, said Pedersen.

Left to do are such things as decisions about what to do with an environmental educational area, and additional work on the entrances to the park, she said.

The park sits in a heavily developed suburban area, with 14,345 residential units within three miles.

The Manatee County Commission approved a construction contract in the amount of about $1.5 million, with a 120-day timeframe for completion, the Herald has previously reported.

The general contractor for the project is Lou Gaudio, of Quality Enterprises USA, Inc., of Naples, Yarger said.

The park's wealth of natural beauty includes a variety of flora and fauna and a 10-acre lake. It is designed to be a quiet, passive haven featuring walking trails and a fishing pier. The area was originally to be developed by Ryland Homes, but members of the community lobbied successfully for a park, instead.

In 2004, the land was purchased for $3.4 million, with half the money supplied by a Florida Communities Trust grant, while the other half came from a local matching arrangement.

The east entrance will incorporate a roundabout and small parking area, while the north gate is designed with a roundabout and paved drive, supplying parking near an observation deck and restroom/pavilion facilities.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.

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