Grant program will help expand local recreation opportunities

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Under the leadership of Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature, the 2008-2009 budget includes $24 million to expand and improve local parks statewide. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) will fund 212 projects in 54 counties to develop and enhance community parks, providing outdoor recreation opportunities and improving public access to Florida’s natural resources.

“Outdoor recreation areas and facilities are a vital part of Florida’s economy, drawing both Floridians and visitors to experience the state’s natural resources,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. “With the support of Governor Crist and the Florida Legislature, FRDAP funding allows Florida cities and counties to develop and enhance local parks while uniting their communities through recreational opportunities.”

Projects include:

Town of Bascom, Community Park – $135,611

Through the Rural Economic Development Initiative, this small community with a population of 111 and an operating budget of $53,000 can enjoy a park without having to match the grant funding provided. The grant will allow the Town to develop a children’s playground and restroom within the only existing park in the community. The property is four-acres and houses the 1929 Bascom school house, which the Town hopes to renovate as a community center for family reunions and community events through historical funding opportunities.

Taylor County, Steinhatchee Park – $135,611

This County Park is located in the Town of Steinhatchee, directly on the Steinhatchee River with close access to the Gulf of Mexico. This project will provide a new public fishing pier and restroom and will renovate the only public playground and picnic facilities in the area. A Florida Heritage Historical Marker is located at this site for its early Steinhatchee history. In addition, the Florida Department of Community Affairs recently awarded the Town with a Waterfronts Florida designation, which provides resources to assist coastal local governments with planning efforts.

City of Hampton, Bobbie Shepard Park – $135,611

Bobbie Shepard Park is the City of Hampton’s largest park located on the Lake Butler-Palatka Trail, and soon to be a designated trailhead along the route. The grant funding will help develop camping, picnic facilities, bike trail, playground, parking as well as enhancements to the existing restrooms and security lighting.

St. Johns County, Nease Beachfront Park – $135,611

Located between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, this site will provide users direct access to the Atlantic Ocean through a raised dune walkover and allow users to view the Intracoastal Waterway from a boardwalk through salt marsh to a scenic overlook pavilion. The project site also contains the historic Allen Nease House. The area falls into the St. Johns County Blueways and Greenways Master Plan as well as the East Coast Greenway, an urban trail that runs from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida. FRDAP funding will also be used to build picnic facilities, a trail throughout the park and parking.

Palm Beach County, Lake Ida Park – $135,611

The park is located on the western shore of Lake Ida, a 120-acre freshwater lake that is part of Palm Beach County’s Chain of Lakes. The Lake provides fishing and recreational boating and is used by personal watercrafts, water skiers, wake boarders and fishers in both Palm Beach and Broward Counties. The improvements will include a new ADA-accessible playground, picnic pavilion, bike trail, canoe/kayak launch, parking and landscaping. An existing group pavilion, picnic pavilion, parking lot and landscaping will also be renovated.

“Reserving space and funds for recreation is essential to the healthy growth of Florida’s communities and citizens,” said DEP’s Florida Division of Recreation and Parks Director Mike Bullock. “The FRDAP program continues to facilitate city and county park growth and enhancement, strengthening families and the protection of Florida’s natural resources.”

Administered by DEP, the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) is a competitive grant program, providing funds to local communities for public outdoor recreation. Over the last decade, Florida has invested more than $250 million to improve local park facilities through this grant program, funding more than 2,000 projects statewide. Enhancements to local parks include improvements and renovations to playground and picnic facilities such as pavilions, tables and benches, ball fields, tennis and basketball courts, concession areas, lighting, fencing, restroom and shower facilities, parking areas, trails, grounds and landscaping, beach docks, piers and boardwalks.

For a list of funded projects and information about applying for a FRDAP grant, visit .

From Staff and Wire Reports

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