PALMETTO -- Six developers are involved in discussions for the contract to develop the $1.1 million Martin Luther King Park in Palmetto, which could break ground as early as January.
Jeff Burton, director of the Central Redevelopment Agency, said this project has been in the works since 2009 and they are on the cusp of finishing. Developers met Tuesday with the CRA.
"It's a good way for CRA to answer questions while they put together bid packages," said Burton. "Once construction begins, it should take less than six months to construct this project."
A timeline of the project shows the CRA Board will be in position to authorize the mayor to conduct negotiations by December with the chosen contractor.
The new 12-acre park will surround the Palmetto Youth Center, 501 17th St. W. It will feature educational tools to inform people about King's mission and legacy.
Commissioner Charles Smith, whose district houses the park, said residents constantly ask about its status.
"That's the No. 1 questions I get: When will it be completed and when will it break ground?" said Smith.
Smith said the new park is designed to enhance the neighborhood, help eliminate blighted areas and provide youth activities.
Of the park's total cost, officials have applied for a $500,000 grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, with the city and CRA to provide matching funds, said Burton.
The new park will feature a manmade lake and restored wetlands. He said the park will act as a "settling filter" for the Manatee River.
"The property has historically been a nuisance property," said Burton. "It also reduces crime as well as improve the water."
Water collects north of town, then flows into the Carr Drain, he said.
Plans call for the park to have the feel of a preserve with trails, water features and a fountain, connecting with a linear park trail meandering through the city, Burton said.
Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.