Largo Central Park's Success Comes From Community's 'Heart'
Greg Brown, director of Largo's parks, talked about the popularity of Largo Central Park and its value to the community to a Clearwater neighborhood group recently.
A former orange packing plant and a patchwork of other parcels made way for what is arguably Largo’s most popular attraction, Largo Central Park.
An estimated 800,000 people come to enjoy the more than 30-acre park’s green space, ride on the 1/10 scale train or play on the playground at Seminole Boulevard and Bay Drive.
There is a veterans memorial, the Cultural Center and Library in close proximity. To the northwest of the park a new trail system links nearby Bayhead park to the neighborhood closeby.
“It wasn’t always like this,” Greg Brown, who is in charge of Largo's parks, said to Clearwater neighborhood leaders recently.
Brown, who has worked at the city for 15 years, talked at a March 4 Clearwater Neighborhoods Coalition meeting about the park's popularity, its value to the community and its bathrooms.
Clearwater neighborhood leaders are interested to build from the success of Largo's park in an effort to rejuvenate beleaguered Crest Lake Park, which some say has suffered since the bathrooms there were welded shut June 11, 2012.
“The community having its heart in the park is the most important thing you can do,” Brown said.
Events are in Largo Central Park just about every week. Brown said shelters are rented a year in advance in some instances. They have about 800 rentals yearly.
Brown was asked about costs for the park and what value it brings to the community.
The budget to staff and maintain the park is $600,000, he said, which includes taking care of the area near the library and nature preserve that borders it.
Brown said two hotels were built within proximity to the park, because of the park. He estimates the park adds $1.5 million in property tax value increases to neighboring parcels within a mile of it.
Brown said the park is not without its issues. But through partnering with police and a series of cameras throughout parts of the park there are fewer incidents of vandalism.
He also was asked about the bathrooms there.
They are magnetically locked when the park closes. Brown said they have not had a problem with people entering the bathrooms, jamming the doors or staying after hours with the 600-pound magnetic lock system.
Neighbors, who have offered to take over maintenance of the restrooms at Crest Lake Park, were interested to know the cost to keep the bathrooms clean in Largo.
A part-time employee oversees the three urinals and stalls in the mens room and three stalls in the ladies room there and the bathrooms at five other parks in the city, Brown said.
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