Lakewood Ranch Herald

Manatee County, Braden River Soccer Club lighting deal approved by commission Tuesday

MANATEE -- Field lights are coming to a soccer field at Lakewood Ranch Park.

After a year of negotiation between the Braden River Soccer Club and Manatee County government about the lights, county commissioners approved an agreement at Tuesday's meeting.

The soccer club will contribute $45,000 over a three-year period toward the cost of lighting with the county contributing the remaining $530,000 through park impact fees. Lights will be turned off by 9:05 p.m.

Commissioner Vanessa Baugh has been working with the league and the county to reach this agreement. She said the children the lighting will benefit is what it's all about.

"It's just good all the way around," Baugh said. "It's so nice to see the government working with the private sector to come up with a solution that benefits the community like this."

Braden River Soccer Club parent Candice McElyea said she's at the fields five days a week.

"It really is going to be a huge benefit to all the kids," she said. "As it expands, this is going to be a really huge benefit for everyone involved."

Following approval of the lighting, some parents of local swimmers spoke about wanting lighting and pool heaters at John Marble Pool. Pipeline Swimming has approached the county to finance improvements at the pool.

Christine Walker, a parent of swimmers, said it is disheartening to see so little investment in swimming.

"We have a club that wants to come in," Walker said. "We need to make an arrangement with the county. ... It just seems like we are up against the wall. I don't understand why we can't work something out."

Patrick Piper, co-owner of Pipeline Swimming, said they are offering to give Manatee County money to do this.

"What we bring to the community is a community," he said.

The commission also:

Added more than $127.5 million to county debt to fund capital projects.

Authorized the financial adviser to begin negotiations with a potential financing team to accomplish debt issuances for general government and transportation capital projects.

Awarded the $11.9 million bid to Bradenton's E.T. MacKenzie of Florida Inc. for the 44th Avenue East roadway project from 19th Street Court East to 30th Street East with 450 calendar days for completion. The project includes constructing approximately 2.5 miles of four-lane roads to include water main, reclaimed water main, sanitary sewer, force main, drainage, sidewalks, curbs, gutters and signalization.

Authorized returning $1.35 million to the state for overpayment of Tropical Storm Debby Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement. The money is being returned "due to successful efforts to reduce project costs," according to the agenda.

Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.