09-05-19 | Association News

Swimming in the Sunshine

Carrollwood Community Park

by By Rep Services Inc.

Swimming in the Sunshine

The Carrollwood Village Park is a 6,000-square-feet park located in Florida. Central to the playground stands a climbing tower with multi-leveled, webbed nets, which is designed to offer kids the challenges they need for healthy development. The tower reaches great heights (about 21') upon a custom elevated grass mound, providing a birds-eye view of the park.

In 2014, a group of neighbors came together to gather public interest in turning an old wastewater treatment plant into a new community park in Hillsborough County, Florida. The committee met regularly for the next 5 years developing their prioritized wish-list and working in concert with county commissioners and their staff on turning their community's dreams into a reality. As a result, Rep Services, Inc., Landscape Structures, and ForeverLawn worked in close collaboration with Hillsborough County Parks to design a complete playground experience.

After many site visits and meetings with county officials, the park project became established as the Carrollwood Village Park and the group of community volunteers formed what is now called the Carrollwood Park Conservancy.

Gaining Traction
Shortly after the group was formed in 2014, Hillsborough County began its outreach and sites investigation to take the old Dale Mabry Wastewater Treatment Plant and develop it into a destination park that could be enjoyed by all.

Swimming in the Sunshine

Skyways shade sails from Landscape Structures provide protection from the Florida sunshine and keeps parts of the playground cool throughout the day. Designed with colorful fish and lily pads, the custom-designed playground grass surfacing leads to another hillscape with tunnel and slide. The Hillsborough County Parks worked in close collaboration with Rep Services, Inc. and others to design a complete playground experience from the tower to the blue winding playground grass 'river'.

Several public meetings were subsequently held at a nearby cultural center to gauge the community's desire for the park and determine the proposed amenities. The Parks and Recreation Department then presented the project plans, which would later be implemented into the overall master plan for
the park.

Turning a wastewater treatment plant into a functional and sustainable park would take several phases of construction. The site was constrained by many factors including physical and underground barriers, existing conditions, and safety considerations. After several months, the Carrollwood Park Conservancy was able to iron out the details.

Swimming in the Sunshine

Between the inclusive playground and the splash pad, which were built during phase 1B of the development, is an outdoor fitness area that was part of phase 1A. 

After seeing the plans, Hillsborough County commissioners proposed funding the initial phase of the park for $400,000, which by 2019, grew to $10 million.

Phases of Construction
Phase 1A, which was completed in October 2018, encompassed the overall site development including earthwork, utilities, paving, roadways, and building renovations. New park amenities then started appearing, such as the two new dog parks, outdoor fitness area, walking trail, lawn games area, picnic shelters, and restrooms. Phase 1B, which was completed in April 2019, included the construction of an amphitheater, splash pad, and a new themed inclusive playground with synthetic turf.

Swimming in the Sunshine

Also constructed during phase 1B was the splash pad that features ground sprays, a bucket drop, interactive elements, themed creatures and stone fountains from Aquatix.

Phase 2 is still underway, which includes a boardwalk, fishing dock, pump track, hammock area, challenge course, gardens, public art, solar lighting and nature center: the results of which have led to a truly inclusive project.

The source of inspiration for the playground design came from a passion about developing a passive yet cohesive park concept; a central "nature-theme" that encouraged people of all ages and abilities to come together to explore. The Hillsborough County Parks worked in close collaboration with Rep Services, Inc. and others to design a complete playground experience.

Swimming in the Sunshine

The suspended walkway on this climber, designed for kids from 5 to 12 years of age, is meant to develop balance, coordination, core body strength, flexibility, and motor planning.

The site itself played a role in the overall nature theme as the park environment fosters fishing and wildlife, and rolling hills and landscape elements that would
reshape the idea of traditional play and recreation.

Site amenities include a variety of play equipment, swings and areas for children to climb, run through, and explore. One of the amenities is a boogie board type of apparatus, which allows children to either lounge or surf. In addition to that is a distinct variety or the common see-saw. This one is wheelchair accessible and provides a unique design as well as a gentle rocking motion that invites kids and families of all ages and abilities to participate.

Swimming in the Sunshine

A group of outdoor musical instruments creates a collection of chimes, bells, metallophones, and drums that welcome musicians of all abilities to discover the subtle shifts of tones and individual sounds combinations.

The Carrollwood Community Park playground offers a sensory rich environment delivering one of the most inclusive playgrounds in the area. Children of all ages can swing, spin, climb, and surf through a collection of custom-designed playground features.

As the Carrollwood Park Conservancy summed up, "When we saw the opportunity to turn the land from a decommissioned wastewater treatment center into a local park, we got to work and made it happen. It's been a long road to get to this point, but we're so excited to finally see Carrollwood Village Park coming together. There will still be some areas that are closed off as Phase 2 of construction takes place (but) this park is going to be amazing!"

As seen in LASN magazine, September 2019.

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