MANATEE -- Local attorney Melton Little believes South Park Athletic Center can be the catalyst to revitalize South County neighborhoods.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the public will have a chance to learn more about the proposal and meet the 26 board directors of the South Park Athletic Center.
"First and foremost, it's to introduce the board to the community, and secondly it's to introduce the board to themselves," Little said. The meet and greet will be held at Anna Maria Oyster Bar Landside, 6906 14th St. W., Bradenton.
Little, an attorney with Palmetto-based Kallins, Little & Delgado, is proposing an indoor athletic facility called South Park Athletic
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Center at the former Manatee Technical Institute campus south of Bayshore High School. MTI, now Manatee Technical College, moved its main campus in January 2013, leaving the 5603 34th St. W. location vacant.
While Little wants to convert the former campus, the Manatee County School District still owns the MTC property. The school board will discuss options for the property during a 2 p.m. workshop Wednesday.
The proposed park would have an indoor track and field, indoor basketball courts, indoor Olympic-size pool and dog park. Saying South County is dying, Little says the park is designed to help revitalize the area.
"This project is designed to do that and that's why all these people are joining this board," the lifelong South County resident said. "They are invested in this area of the county."
Over the last few months, Little has attracted a "very diverse group of people" for the board of directors. They include:
Nick Bollettieri, founder of IMG Academy's Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy and considered the most successful tennis coach in the world
Robert "Pig" Goff, former National Football League player
Alan Zirkelbach, owner of Zirkelbach Construction
John Rice, owner of Rice Appliances
David Underhill, Bayshore High School principal
Bill Webster, Bealls Inc. director of public and government affairs
John Johnson, owner of Johnson Printing
Bob Davis, president/CEO of The Panda Foundation
Harry Kinnan, former Manatee County School Board member
"It speaks to the broad range of support of the project," Little said. "Each and every one of the people serving on this board has a direct connection to Southwest Manatee County. ...It is a board that brings many different people with many different skill sets to the table with the hope to develop, design and build out this project."
Little, who approached all of the board members, said he is looking for a few more.
"My vision is the board would consist of 30 members," he said. "I've met with over 68 people since March regarding this project."
Wednesday's event kicks off the board becoming "a functioning active board," Little said. Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie and Manatee County School Board member Charlie Kennedy also plan to attend, he said.
The board's makeup will be "important in design and potential uses of the facility," Little added.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.