What’s the deal with Sprawlparks?

For a couple of years, there has been an ongoing story in northern Pinellas County about the need for additional playing fields for local youth sports. Every plan takes a huge tract of land and creates multiple fields at one location. Thus the term “sprawlpark.”

Heck, look at the city of Oldsmar’s description of it’s Canal Park complex — “Sprawling” over 46 acres. 46 ACRES!

What ever happened to neighborhood parks? Or neighborhood playing fields? Why put multiple fields in one location and treat it like a friggin’ mall (one stop shopping!) instead of a more localized situation?

First of all, I guess developers are in part to blame, as well as the county. The county, while trying to address needs, puts for the most cost effective plan — as multiple fields in one location can be maintained easier. Of course, the concept of civic and neighborhood pride doesn’t play into this… But from an administrative level, it makes as much sense as putting bus stops in easily reached logistical locations without thinking about traffic (the old busing plan for the county that resulted in anarchy and deaths of students who had to cross multiple lanes of traffic to get back home).

The developers get the blame for, and this is common in Florida, not helping the county by providing infrastructure and space. Where neighborhoods like Lake St. George, Lansbrook, Ridgemore and so many others were built to the brim with housing styles… Public space wasn’t offered outside of clubhouses paid for in part by home owners association fees.

Logistically, it might be easier to have several ballfields in one location instead of them dotting the landscape — one here, one there, several miles apart — but at the same time, you will not have the same volatile reaction by putting a baseball field in an already estabilished neighborhood compared to building large scale park complex and bringing development, noise and light pollution into a sparsely developed corner of the county.

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