Village excited about two major projects, opening of new businesses
WESLEY CHAPEL – It’s been a long time coming for Wesley Chapel’s two major projects – a municipal park and its first town hall – but things are rapidly taking off as the village finalizes an agreement with Aston Properties to provide an access road to the future town hall, and prepares to bid out construction for Dogwood Park.
Mayor Brad Horvath said the village will have a request for proposal ready to send out in the next few weeks and will collect bids for phase one of the park’s construction for at least a month. He expects the first phase of the park will cost $380,000 to $420,000.
“We’re hoping for lower, but realistically (the cost) will be between (those figures),” Horvath said.
Wesley Chapel has been fortunate enough to secure several grants along the way. A $500,000 matching funds grant helped pay for the park’s property – 22.6 acres located at the corner of Highway 84 and Lester Davis Road – which cost about $1.1 million.
The village also secured a $100,000 water resources grant and a $5,000 trails grant. A series of volunteer Saturdays brought in dozens of community members who worked to clear debris, cut down small trees and ready the property for construction.
Phase one of the park will include paved trails, unpaved bike trails, an amphitheater built to seat about 200, a fishing pier and improvements to the park’s lake. Other plans include widening the entrance to the property and creating a paved parking area. Horvath said the village hopes to see construction start sometime in August and the park open and ready for use in early 2013.
For more than a year, Wesley Chapel has been negotiating with Aston Properties, the owner of the shopping center adjacent to the site of the future town hall, to work through some of the complicated logistics of the town hall project. After a shared water retention proposal was abandoned, the village sought to reach an agreement with Aston that would build a shared access road – a 40-foot frontage between the properties leading to Highway 84.
The two parties went back-and-forth on some of the technicalities, which delayed groundbreaking, but Horvath expects an agreement will be reached next week that will require Aston to fund 67.7 percent of the construction costs, while Wesley Chapel will pay for the remaining 32.3 percent. A cap will be placed on the project, ensuring Wesley Chapel will not have to put more than $35,000 toward the access road.
The village is allocating $1.25 million toward building a 6,700-square-foot building on six acres donated to the town by Aston Properties when the adjacent shopping center was first built in the early 2000s.
Currently, the village holds its town meetings in a local church fellowship hall, and the village’s four employees – an administrator/clerk/finance operator, a planning and zoning administrator, an administrative assistant and a contract deputy – operate out of limited office space in a residential building used as a temporary town hall. The new building will include offices for village employees, meeting rooms, a council chamber, an office for the village’s contract deputy, a kitchen and more.
The village intends to use about two acres of the property for the town hall and parking, with the other four acres used for additional park-like amenities sometime in the future. A small dry stormwater pond will be installed to meet the town hall’s limited water retention needs.
Horvath said the village hopes to have the town hall completed and occupied by mid-2013. Groundbreaking ceremonies for both the town hall and the park are planned for later this year.
“We don’t know an exact date yet, but we’re hoping (the groundbreakings) will be sometime this fall,” he said. “That’s the general thought for both properties. We’ll have more of an exact date when the bids come in.”
In addition to these two projects, Wesley Chapel is excited to welcome three new businesses to the village’s commercial area in the near future. Coming soon are a New York Bagel near the Radio Shack; a Tyndall-Pedic Mattress store near the Verizon store; and a Revolution Bicycle shop near The Coffee Table.
“We’re excited about these stores coming to Wesley Chapel,” Horvath said. “They’ll be a great addition to our community.”