Community proposals could improve residents’ quality of life

Published: Monday, April 29, 2013 at 07:01 PM.

The community dog park’s rising popularity has motivated area dog lovers to request a similar facility for Crestview. Councilwoman Robyn Helt and Public Works Director Wayne Steele have identified a location in Twin Hills Park’s southwest corner already enclosed by fencing on three sides. Fencing the fourth side, installing water fountains and "doggie toilet" stations, and other improvements could cost less than $20,000, Steele said. Funding could come from the Community Redevelopment District, which includes the park, Helt said. Funds are collected from businesses within the district as incremental taxes earmarked for improvements within the district.

Additionally, youth leaders, student and adult skateboard riders and parents have frequently approached city leaders about providing a safe skating environment. Meanwhile, community policing officers, including former skater Sam Kimmons, have watched as Stillwell Avenue’s rolling hills become an impromptu skate site. The street's storm water gully and concrete culvert overpasses provide challenges for skaters, while the steep incline allows them to build up impressive speeds. Steele and Kimmons have learned that a set of stairs tops the list of items that skaters want, according to conversations with teen skaters at Crestview High School.

Under the council's direction, Steele has begun gathering information to produce a formal proposal for both parks, which CRA money might fund.

Linking downtown and Twin Hills Park

Providing a pedestrian and bicyclist link between downtown Crestview and Twin Hills Park, in Helt’s vision, includes a safe, well-lit footpath from Main Street, under the Ferdon Boulevard overpass, and into the park’s southwest corner. Linking the downtown shopping and dining district with Twin Hills Park's recreational opportunities would maximize the most use of two existing city resources, she has said. Her idea includes historically inspired streetlamps, planters and benches along the foot and bike path.

Helt has said that she envisions parents strolling to Main Street to eat and shop while their children play at Twin Hills Park’s skate park or ball fields. Pharmacy students at Florida A&M University's Rural Diversity Healthcare Center could take their lunch to the park to eat and study outdoors. During downtown festivals, a pedestrian link to the park's parking also is beneficial, she has said. Add picnic tables and shelters to southwest Twin Hills Park’s underused portion, couple it with proposed skate and dog parks on the north side, and link it with downtown's resources, and "we, I feel, have the potential to capitalize on the properties we currently have," Helt has said.

Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.

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