Florida Senate subcommittee considering $9 million for new FDOT center

IMG, Sarasota conservatory also in committee's latest budget proposal

skennedy@bradenton.comMarch 20, 2014 

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Soccer players warm up before a game at the Super Y-League North American soccer finals Thursday at IMG Academy.GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald

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MANATEE -- Almost $9 million for a new Florida Department of Transportation operations center in Manatee County is listed in budget proposals this week in the Florida Senate.

Other projects listed in the state Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development's proposed budget include $1 million for Sarasota's Circus Arts Conservatory and $2.5 million for the Bradenton-area

IMG Academy.

FDOT officials are hoping an $8.951 million request for construction of a new operations center at 13900 State Road 64 E. will survive vetting through the Florida Legislature and the governor's office.

"An additional $8.9 million is needed to fully fund the project, and hire a design-build team fairly soon," said Debbie Tower, FDOT spokeswoman.

The subcommittee is slated to review its budget proposals before sending recommendations to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

The approximate cost of the new operations center would be in the range of about $19 million, with about $10 million budgeted in the current fiscal year and the remainder in the following one, Tower said.

The operations center, which would be built on FDOT-owned land, would serve Manatee and Sarasota counties.

An existing facility in Sarasota was built during the 1950s, she said.

Also listed in the subcommittee's budget was $2.5 million for IMG Academy, an athletic and sports training academy at 5500 34th St. W, in Manatee County.

"We are looking forward to continuing to enhance and expand our facilities for our student-athletes, while also developing venues that enable us to continue to attract events and programs like this year's MLS Pre-Season Training series," Chip McCarthy, IMG vice president of finance, wrote in an email to the Herald.

About $1 million proposed for Sarasota's Circus Arts Conservatory would go toward air-conditioning, climate control and a fire suppression system for its building at 2075 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota, said managing director Jennifer Mitchell.

The conservatory is home to world-class performances, youth training, and community outreach programs, she said.

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

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