Wesley Chapel discusses future development

WESLEY CHAPEL – Leaders in Wesley Chapel met with staff and village residents this past weekend to discuss the future of the village and what projects residents would like to see the council focus on for the upcoming year.

Each resident gave up to three ideas for future projects during the first night of last weekend’s planning retreat, with the ideas then prioritized by what the roughly 40 people in attendance thought were most important.

“We asked the citizens what they would like to see the village work on from 2013-14 or even in the next four or five years,” Mayor Brad Horvath said.

Now as the council continues budget discussions heading toward the July 1 budget deadline, they will take into account the ideas, wants and needs of area residents. The two most important priorities pointed out this weekend, according to Horvath, were completion of the new town hall – which began construction early this year – and Dogwood Park, which is still in the planning phase though volunteer days with community members continue to be held to prepare the land.

Bids for construction of the park recently came in higher than the village budget could afford, so leaders are trying to rework some plans and bring the park’s costs into an acceptable range.

“Our initial bids came back significantly higher, about 66 percent higher than our estimate, so we are in the process of working with the state to make sure they are OK with any changes we make to bring the project closer to our estimate,” Horvath said.

Council plans to have everything for the park set for construction by the end of April, with Horvath saying work could be complete by the end of the year.

In addition to the town hall and Dogwood Park, residents also said they would like to see the addition of “well built and attractive” identity signs at all entry points into the village, utilization of the land behind town hall for a public gathering space, determining if the 2.5 acres behind 201 Central can be used for public safety, identifying and reviewing discretionary spending and the construction of sidewalks to connect the town hall to Dogwood Park and other area neighborhoods.

“We labeled items as either in progress or high, medium or low priority,” Horvath said.  “In a few cases we decided that some items were not going to be prioritized largely because the idea was not something that the village could do.”

Council did not take into account during discussions the cost of each project and will look further into that during future meetings. Council will make final decisions on what projects they will include in this year’s budget as planning continues.

“These items were prioritized without regards to fiscal constraints, which of course will factor in whether or not the council can address them in the upcoming year or in one of the next four to five years, if at all,” Horvath said.

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