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Blackstone Park Expansion Project Moves Toward Reality


PALMETTO -- The three Little League Baseball fields promised to the kids north of the river five years ago are no longer diamonds in the rough. They are diamonds being cut. Site remediation, design and permitting have been completed; and if things stay on schedule, we will hear the first crack of the bat sometime in August of 2014.

Tom Yarger, Construction Service Manager for Manatee County on the Blackstone project, went north of the river to meet with Palmetto City Commissioners on Monday night with a status update. Yarger said he was quite pleased with how things were moving. 

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"Now, the project scope is design of the Little League baseball fields, field lighting, parking lot, drive isles, sidewalks, concession stand and restrooms," Yarger explained, adding, "then the fence, dugouts and bleachers. We are looking at around August, 2014."

The largest contract went to Mulligan Construction,for site work, concession and landscaping/irrigation at an amount of $2,366,374.56. 

The electric bid was in the amount of $261,985 to Himes Electric. The site remediation cost was $225,178 and was performed by Professional Service Industries (PSI).

There were other assorted costs, but the total project, based on the contracts awarded is estimated to cost $3,268,912.56. None of the sizeable contracts went to local businesses. 

Commissioner Williams asked Yarger if there was still a way to make room for a women's softball field on the site. Williams said there have always been requests for a women's softball field. Yarger told Williams, there was little chance that it could happen. 

Commissioner Varnadore asked if there was any chance of another field because to host finals or championship events, there has to be four fields.

"With only three fields, it puts us at a disadvantage. Is there any chance that could happen?" asked, Varnadore. Yarger just shook his head and said,"I don't think so." 

The kids that first asked for new fields north of the river are more likely to be looking for a good college today than a run of the bases. But if all goes well, it looks like soon Palmetto's kids of summer are going to have the sweetest three diamonds in the county.



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