Polk County commissioners decided last week to redo, replace, rejuvenate and initiate a variety of projects — and approved the funds to do all of the above.
Among the items okayed by the board were a refresh of it's meeting room, the replacement of the county administration building’s roof, an expansion of the Northeast Regional Park, the purchase of land for road projects and the board okayed paying the county's share of two massive water projects.
The boardroom will undergo a $300,000 renovation, which will include changing wall panels, new seating, revising the color scheme as well as providing additional handicap access to meet federal standards, said County Facilities Manager Keith Tate.
The plan also will include updated audio-visual equipment and lighting, he added.
The work on that part of the admin complex is expected to get underway and be completed during a three-week summer hiatus, Tate explained.
Also on tap for the government center in downtown Bartow will be a new roof, he added, but he did not assign that project a dollar figure at last week's meetings.
One of the “heavy lifts,” said County Manager Bill Beasley, will be spending about $5 million on the final phase of construction at the Northeast Regional Park, located just off U.S. Highway 27 just south of the county’s northern border.
The final phase of the park, Tate explained, includes four new baseball diamonds with some artificial turf and a new concession stand, along with locker rooms and other support areas. According to Beasley, the park is located on 100 acres and has been in the development phase since the land's purchase in 2007.
Initial phases opened in 2012 and this project will be the final phase.
County officials said the cost for the final construction will be shared with the Polk Sports Marketing department picking up some of the tab. Mike Callender, the county's parks director, said the final segment of the development will allow some 12 tournaments to be played on the complex.
The ball fields are presently proposed with only the infields covered in artificial turf, but Beasley said the staff may be able to come up with funds to completely cover the field with synthetic grass.
“Because of COVID(-19), we've lost a lot of revenue, so we may be able to use some of the federal money we will receive to pay for that,” the county manager explained.
In another significant project, the county approved $4.4 million to buy right-of-way land for the widening of Lake Wilson Road. The purchase will give the county about 30 acres of land to use not only for ultimate road right of way, but for construction staging as well.
Beasley said that while the purchase was substantial, the price is less than what it could have been if the county had to go to court to get the land it needs to widen the road. Polk Real Estate Manager Wade Allen said the negotiations involved three probates and eight people, so condemnation of the land would have extended the process and added to the cost.
The county governing board also okayed $2.7 million to design, build and inspect the widening of a short segment of both Cypress Parkway and Marigold Avenue, both located in the northeast county. The construction project is expected to last about two-and-a-half years, but no start date was provided at last week's board session.
Lastly, the county board okayed an agreement to share the design and construction costs of two major water projects with a combined cost of about $20 million.