CORAL SPRINGS, FL – As Coral Springs City Manager Frank Babinec sees it, an overgrown wildlife area of thick trees and bushes on the city’s southeast side is an opportunity to give residents a new place to walk, enjoy nature, and learn about the environment.
Babinec wants to expand walking paths, build an elevated boardwalk, add a community garden, redesign a playground, and rebuild pavilions on the grounds of Kiwanis Park on Ramblewood Drive.
“We can do something amazing out of that natural beautify that is back there,” Babinec told city commissioners this week.
The park improvements would be part of the city’s new proposal to spend $31 million – of which $25.5 million would be borrowed - for public improvement projects.
The plan includes converting Fire Station No. 64 at 500 Ramblewood Drive into a senior center and rebuilding the station at Kiwanis Park.
In addition, the city wants to rebuild the “Westside Campus,” which includes the city garage and storage building off NW 120 Avenue, according to the proposal. It would also cover the costs of renovating and upgrading the fire training and police firing range facilities and surrounding buildings.
If city commissioners approve the plan to borrow $25.5 million as early as next week, it could mean the owner of a single-family house valued at $300,000 would pay at least $21 a year in new taxes and fees.
The Kiwanis Park improvements would give residents on and off Ramblewood Drive a new place to enjoy the outdoors especially in the wildlife area, as well as bring together youth and senior citizens, Babinec said.
Babinec said seniors attending the new senior center and youth visiting the neighboring Safety Town facility could come together to tend a community garden and learn from each other.
He said students at nearby Ramblewood Middle School could also benefit if the school develops environmental programs in the wildlife area.
City commissioners liked the park improvement ideas, but some had concerns about the costs of all the projects and the impact of the borrowing on taxpayers.
Commissioner Joshua Simmons said he appreciated the “ingenuity and innovation” in how the park improvement plan mixed in with the new fire station and community center.
“This is just a great plan,” he said.
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