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Earlier Funding of Highland Recreation Center Construction Sought

City of Largo recreation, parks and arts officials hope to access some of the allocated funding for the new HIghland Recreation Center earlier to ensure the project meets its target date.

If the Largo city commission allows it, the City of Largo’s project to rebuild the will get some of its funding sooner rather than later.

The new complex will replace the current structure at 400 Highland Ave. NE. In an effort to ensure the project is completed on time, with a completion date of April 2013, officials with the city’s  recreation, parks and arts department are hoping to get funding quicker to make sure the construction is not delayed.

Funding for the project has already been allocated for $17 million and Joan Byrne, the city’s recreation, parks and arts director, emphasized she is not asking for a dime more in funding, just that a piece of the funding is allocated quicker.

If the project is delayed, it will conflict with summer camps, Byrne said.

“Summer camp time is a very busy time,” Byrne said. “It is chaos. We can’t be moving camps in the middle of the summer. So we are asking for a chunk of already budgeted funds in installments.

“We are not asking for additional funding, just that the funding is allocated in two segments.”

What will possibly complicate the construction is at the same location, the city will be in the midst of a sewer project to run a line under Highland Ave. This, Byrne noted, could delay the Highland Recreation Center construction.

The new building will be erected at the current skate park location at the Bayhead Complex.

Byrne noted that the current home of the Highland Recreation Center is simple too old and not very cost effective.

“Far and away the Highland Rec Center is one of the oldest buildings in the city,” Byrne said. “It’s a metal building on a concrete slab with virtually no insulation. It’s build on grade so it floods whenever there is a heavy rain. It’s old and tired and it has to be an energy hog.”

Byrne noted that the city has had plans for 12 years to replace the complex, but other projects kept pushing the Highland Recreation Center construction task on the back burner.

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