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Palm Beach Post (Florida)
By Michelle Piasecki Special to The Palm Beach Post

Workers are putting the final touches on Citrus Grove Park, a new park next to Citrus Grove Elementary School in Palm City, while Martin County's plans are still uncertain for a covered horse arena at Timer Powers Park near Indiantown.

Both projects are part of Martin County's capital improvement plan and are partially paid for through park impact fees and the $60 million raised through a half-cent sales tax referendum passed in 2006. Also, both locations could possibly bring in revenue for the county with Timer Powers Park home to the Indiantown Rodeo and Citrus Grove becoming home to the Martin County North Little League and a possible location for future tournaments.

The proposed project at Timer Powers Park would build a roof over the horse arena. The county has received a bid to do the work for $1.37 million, which is valid until Aug. 10. The park annually hosts the Indiantown Rodeo, which features bareback bronc riding, barrels, bull riding, saddle bronc riding and steer wrestling. The event is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Women's Professional Rodeo Association.

Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Abbate said the board has directed his department to investigate revenue options for the site, including costs for bleachers and restrooms, and he said the department is charged with looking at what would be the best possible use from the remaining park tax dollars. Some of those dollars helped build the $8.8 million Sailfish Splash aquatic complex on Willoughby Road in Stuart.

"This (Timer Powers Park) project also could be tied into relocating the Martin County Fairgrounds from Dixie Highway to the area west closer to Indiantown.

If approved, construction on the horse arena would start on Oct. 20, immediately following the 2014 Indiantown Rodeo.

"We're supposed to come back to the them in July and will make a decision whether to move forward," Abbate said.

To wrap up the nearly $3.7 million construction that started on Citrus Grove Park in July 2013, the county reallocated park impact fees. The last step, Abbate said, is for the contractor to put in sod to meet the county's requirements. Once that is complete, the park will be turned over to Martin County for continued maintenance, and players could use the field for the next ball season.

The park will become the home field for the Martin County North Little League, which has been playing a bulk of its games at Sailfish Park, which it leases and helps maintain in the city of Stuart. The new park means the little league organization won't be leasing the city park as often.

"We're looking forward to not having the lease, and it's a nice new facility," said Bill Stuckey, the league's president.

Stuckey also said Martin County North Little League is working with the county on a couple of minor improvements, including pitching and hitting stations.

Eventually, Citrus Grove will be a 26-acre park, but for now, the county is developing only four baseball fields, a concession stand/rest-room building, batting cages and a maintenance building. There are three typical Little League fields and one Pony League field.

Future phases include a soccer field, playground equipment, and picnic shelters, but those won't be built until money is available, said the county's project manager Kevin Landry.

For now, Landry estimates the county has developed about two-thirds of the total park, and although opening has been delayed because of the condition of the turf, he anticipates the final turnover of the park will happen soon.

"We're expecting to have the fields in the next 30 days," Landry said. "Right now, we are working on getting the turf in playable condition."

The league will still host some events at Sailfish, however.

In fact, Stuckey said, the league is hosting Opening Day for Little League All-Stars District 17 on Saturday, but he said it would be nice to have somewhere to call home.

"It's a beautiful new facility, and we're excited," he said.


June 26, 2014




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