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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"