A $3 million expansion to Lake Crago Park near I-4 and Lakeland Hills Boulevard has been approved, with Lakeland’s Rodda Construction tapped to do the work.
The expansion will include three multi-purpose sports fields for soccer, football and lacrosse, including sports field lighting, restrooms, parking, landscaping and irrigation. There are also plans for a concession stand and a playground.
An illustration in the information package presented to city commissioners last week shows three baseball and softball diamonds, but those are now planned for the next phase.
Funds for construction of Phase III are currently budgeted in the FY2023 Public Improvement Fund, including:
- $2.24 million from the city’s District 1 parks and recreation impact fees
- $200,000 from Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program grant funds
- $548,300 from the city’s public improvement fund
Lake Crago Park encompasses 119 acres and currently has a dog park, restroom, boat ramp, recreation and event center, boathouse and fishing dock. The playing fields will be built beyond the event center.
Several officials noted that the cost was higher than what was originally planned in 2019, when the city broke ground for the park.
“These fields are expensive to build,” said Pam Page, deputy director of parks and recreation, noting that they opted for the initially more expensive LED lighting, but added that it will save the city in the long run. A grant is helping to pay for the extra cost for those.
City Manager Shawn Sherrouse said the price of everything has gone up in recent years.
“That, of course, relates to what we’ve been seeing with increases in labor and material and fuel and everything else,” Sherrouse said. “We’re not surprised — like many other things … that, you know, the costs are coming in considerably higher than what had been initially estimated.”
Mayor Bill Mutz asked if pickle ball courts were in the plans, but was told they are not. Page explained that there is high demand for soccer fields because of the explosive population growth in Lakeland — one of the fastest growing areas of the nation.
Two more soccer fields are slated to be built on a 106-acres park planned off Pipkin Road in Southwest Lakeland in the next few years.
Rodda will begin construction at Lake Crago Park within the next 90 days. Officials said it will take them about a year to finish.
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