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Parks & Recreation upgrades enhance visitor experience

Post Date:02/20/2020 8:00 AM


Visitors to the Aquatic Center and Frank Brown Park will soon see several upgrades which will offer residents and visitors alike a better experience and more services.

The City’s Parks and Recreation Department has recently completed several projects and has several more on the horizon as staff prepares for the busy spring and summer season.

The largest of these capital improvement projects is the replacement of the liner on the Aquatic Center’s 50-meter pool. The replacement begins next week and should be completed March 25. During that time, the pool will be closed.

 “This is a project we’ve been budgeting to do for some time,” said Parks & Recreation Director Jim Ponek. “Thousands of locals and tourists visit the pool each year and another 300 learn to swim at the pool each year. This was the original liner from 2006. It was time to be replaced.”

The City is also constructing two new pickleball courts behind Lyndell Center. Fencing has been installed and the courts should be completed by early March.

During the February 27 meeting, the City Council is expected to award the bids for the replacement of 11 scoreboards at the park, and a separate bid to add shade to the children’s playground. Shade structures will cover the two smaller playgrounds which have turf, and the Imagination Playground. The playground opened in May 2018.

New electronic scoreboards will be installed on the Miracle League field and in the gymnasium. Nine new scoreboards will be installed on the baseball/softball fields. The City will also build four new batting cages, bringing the total to eight.

Other projects recently completed include:

  • New LED lights on the south complex and the soccer fields;
  • Converting a press box to an umpire locker room;
  • Re-sod baseball fields to address drainage issues;
  • Repairs to Frank Brown Park parking lot.

“We’ve got a lot going on,” Ponek added. “Our staff work hard to keep the facilities in good condition to provide an enjoyable experience for all our visitors, whether they are winter visitors only here for a short time, locals or traveling ball teams. We are truly blessed to have the facilities we do and to have a Mayor and Council who support the parks. It’s a quality of life issue and they recognize that.”

The City also recently approved an agreement with Buffalo Rock Pepsi granting the company exclusive beverage vending and pouring rights on City property. The three-year contract, with a two-year option, will generate more than $90,000 a year in revenues. The contract includes Frank Brown Park, Aaron Bessant Park, Lyndell Conference Center, City Hall, the beach and other City facilities

Parks and Recreation, which currently employees 38 full-time and 13 permanent part-time workers, is seeking to hire several seasonal and part-time employees, particularly as lifeguards and for other positions at the Aquatic Center. Go to to apply.

More than 2,000 people annually participate in youth and adult programs through the Parks & Recreation Department. More than 2,500 baseball, softball, basketball, soccer and aquatics teams compete in tournaments and swim meets at Frank Brown Park each year. More than 600 volunteers/coaches help support these programs.

Frank Brown Park was recently recognized as a 2020 Readers’ Choice Award winner by Sports Events Media Group, a leading industry publication that focuses exclusively on helping sports event planners produce excellent competitions.

Another 80,000 people come to special events at Parks & Recreation facilities each year. They attend such events as Gulf Coast Jam, Thunder Beach, the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, UNwineD, Jeep Jam, the Scottish Festival, car and boat shows and 5k runs.

Public Information Officer Debbie Ingram Ward can be reached at or (850) 233-5100, Ext. 2261.


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