The rebuilding of Hydrant Park at 1502 13th St. W. in Palmetto has been a wish-list item for Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant since it fell into disrepair years ago, culminating with an act of vandalism and the eventual removal of all playground equipment.
Hydrant Park will not only return but will return in style with the city investing $100,000 in new fire department-themed playground equipment.
The city has been taking surveys from residents and formed a committee to review public input to prioritize park improvements throughout the city and this week authorized Moore2Design to move the project from conceptual to reality. The new playground equipment should arrive in about six weeks and be installed within three weeks after arrival.
The city has long put an emphasis on each city park having a unique flai. Jon Moore, of Moore2Design, said this is a good example of that.
"Hydrant Park has many opportunities to make it special and a little different," he said. "We've had a great relationship with the North River Fire Department, which had a lot of input into this and they want to build some programs around what we want to do in this park."
Features include a fire engine and fire station theme, completed with a covered roof. The park also will get improved lighting under a Florida Power & Light program, but that will take as long as six months. However, officials want to move forward with the playground equipment and other amenities, including fire hydrant trash cans.
"We promised our constituents we would do this quickly and it's in the price range of what we agreed on," said Bryant. "It's had a big impact on the community not being there."
Currently, the park is unappealing with tall weeds and a large sandy area where the old playground equipment used to be. The fence is in disrepair and will be replaced as part of the project. The park will be returned fully to grass with the exception of the play area, which will feature a rubber surface.
To ensure vandalism isn't a problem in the future, Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler said security cameras will be installed to monitor the park. A swing set also will be installed with two swings designed for older children and two boxed swings for the younger ones.
Bryant said it will be a day of celebration once Hydrant Park is restored bigger and better than it was for a community that has long been without what was once a very popular park.
"My intent will be to open it on a Saturday morning and hopefully the fire department can do some demonstrations and the Kiwanis can bring their bookmobile," she said. "I want to make an event of it. It's going to be one of the first visible things we've been looking forward to doing for the community so I'm really excited to get the rubber hitting the road on this one, so to speak."