A pool north of the Manatee River may finally have a home: Buffalo Creek Park.
The Manatee County Commission will be asked next week to approve building the long-anticipated pool at the park, which is east of Interstate 75 in unincorporated Manatee County at 7550 69th St. E.
“We want to get going,” County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said. “We have an impact fee program in place. We want to get something because people have been looking for pools on the north side of the river for years.”
Since the pool would be paid for with impact fees, the people who pay such fees are located around Buffalo Creek Park instead of locations closer to the city of Palmetto, Hunzeker said.
“We don’t get any impact fee money from Palmetto,” he said.
It is a 12-minute drive from the city to Buffalo Creek Park, which is in “close proximity to a new high school for a swim team,” Hunzeker said. A map shows that the proposed pool is approximately four miles from the proposed new high school at the southeast corner of Erie Road and Martha Road in Parrish.
Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant could not be reached for comment Thursday.
With the lack of a pool for open swim in the area, East Manatee resident Linda Minihkeim welcomed having a pool at Buffalo Creek Park.
“If there was a pool, I would bring the kids over,” she said Thursday.
For Parrish resident Kelly Trawick and her family, they wouldn’t come to a pool at Buffalo Creek Park since there is a pool in their neighborhood.
“It is free and four doors down and it is more convenient for us,” Trawick said as she sat under the park’s pavilion Thursday afternoon. “I think with all the development and all the pools in new developments, I don’t see a need in this area.”
Palmetto resident Shayna Watterson agrees, since there is a pool in her neighborhood as well as one at her inlaws’ house, which is right across the street from the park.
“I think it’s more of a waste of money because people have (pools) in the neighborhood or at the house,” she said.
A new swimming pool north of the Manatee River was a focus of the commission’s review of the five-year capital improvements program in June. At the time, it was estimated the pool would cost $4.5 million, and final construction would take place in 2020.
Should the commission OK the proposed location Tuesday, the county would then start on the conceptual plan, including figuring out how much such a facility would cost, Hunzeker said. But the Buffalo Creek site would not require property acquisition costs since the county already owns the property, in addition to costs for infrastructure such as water, sewer and parking lots.
“It’s off the tax roll,” Hunzeker said. “We already own it.”
The specific details of the pool, including whether there would also be a splash park, have yet to be determined. But Hunzeker said he doesn’t want to restrict future dreams.
“This is going to be an aquatic center as big, as if not better, than G.T. Bray,” he said. “This is not your neighborhood pool. ...We ought to have more than one G.T. Bray.”