Tom Bennett Park is the proposed location for a new 20-acre destination water park plus hotel, parking and other amenities. This water park would take away 20 or more acres of public park lands, which will now be available only to residents who can pay the daily charge to enter. For many in our community, the estimated daily charges of $25 a person or $100 for a family of four is simply too expensive!
Tom Bennett Park is currently enjoyed by residents and tourists who may fish, canoe, play sand volleyball, enjoy the wonderful children’s playground, have a birthday party or cookout, walk the many trails, photograph wildlife, meditate, bicycle, skate or just enjoy the beautiful grounds and bird life. The proposed water park will destroy this ambiance and bring congestion and turmoil to this gem of a park.
This is a land grab by greedy out-of-town developers who want to put a huge commercial project on our public park lands while our county commissioners tout new jobs, more tourists, and more tax revenues. The water park proformas are suspect, as is the economic viability of this project. What is clear is that our park will be destroyed, the landscape decimated, many trees cut down, and traffic and congestion increased.
I was present at the then new Tom Bennett Park dedication, and appreciate the founding vision as a public community park to be enjoyed by all residents, and yes, to include a community pool such as we have at G.T. Bray Park in west Bradenton. This public pool would be operated by the county or city for the benefit of all. A huge commercial water park/hotel development was never intended and will destroy another priceless asset in our community.