Three committees were formed at the Barron Park Master Plan Workshop on March 22 to come up with a concept for Barron Park. The committees formed are the playground committee, safety/fixtures committee and character/beautification committee.
The playground recommends the best location for the playground, it’s style, and the age range. The character/beautification committee recommends the style of design and buildings that will be in the park, landscaping, and if recreation should be included. The safety/building committee includes lighting, pathways, park rules and hours, and buildings needed.
Shellie Johnson, former City Planner for LaBelle, said she thinks having the community work together to form committees is a great idea.
“The purpose behind these concept plans is to generate conversation so the designer can understand what components you want in the park,” said Johnson, “It is ground zero.”
“You have to come to an agreement on what elements you want in the park,” said Johnson.
Johnson said some “hot topics” are parking along the river or no parking along the river, splash pads, and playgrounds.
Brent Keller with Ensite agreed with Johnson and said the Barron Park Plan “should be talked about but should be an executive decision.”
“The best way for there to be an executive decision is to understand the goal of the park and I’ve not yet heard that,” said Keller.
“The thought of having a goal for the park never occurred to me when we started designing this,” said Commission Julie Wilkins.
Commissioner Daniel Akin told those who attended the meeting why having a plan for the park is important.
“We have to make a decision as to what we want to do before we can apply for grants,” said Akin.
Ramiro Rodriguez, Hendry LaBelle Recreation Director, agreed a decision must be made regarding the direction of the park.
“We have to identify what kind of park it is going to be,” said Rodriguez, “is it going to be a recreational park or a passive park.”
“Barron Park should be beautification 120 percent with landscaping, nice grass, irrigation, and nice flowers,” said Rodriguez, “So people can sit down to drink their coffee in the morning in nice benches and enjoy the day.”
Rodriguez said he would suggest the parks focus be on family and not on recreation.
“We find if you don’t turn the parks into a family park you get the element of kids who do graffiti and vandalism,” said Rodriguez, “Once you turn the park into a family park where the entire family is involved it makes the environment of kids that do graffiti and destruction move to someplace else.”
Dave Bogart, resident of LaBelle, said he would like to see a “beautiful central park” but the decision for the direction of the park must be an executive decision.
“This has to be an executive decision by someone who says we go tourist attraction, beautiful, peaceful, city park or recreational park utilitarian,” said Bogart, “You have to have one way or another way, there is no in between.”
Jamie Bartley, resident of LaBelle disagrees with Bogart.
“I think we can combine all the elements and have a beautiful park,” said Bartley.
“Barron Park is a passive park with elements of recreation, it’s a hybrid,” said Commissioner Wilkins, “We need to evolve, and the question is where.”