Largo park transformation to feature stormwater recycling, recreational amenities

A five-acre downtown Largo park is primed for stormwater improvements that will include a host of new visitor amenities and conservation features.   Applied Sciences received permit approval for the  City of Largo project from the Southwest Florida Water Management District in October 2011; construction is expected to begin in late 2012.

The project at Bayhead Park will replace a malfunctioning under-drain system in two existing stormwater retention ponds  that ultimately discharge to Boca Ciega Bay, which is classified as an impaired water body.  Plans call for eliminating  faulty filters prone to clogging and harvesting stormwater from the catchment ponds to irrigate surrounding parklands, allowing pollutants to naturally percolate through the soil.   That’s good news for Boca Ciega Bay and the City of Largo.

“Fewer discharges and  better stormwater treatment upstream will benefit Boca Ciega Bay,” said Elie Araj, President of Applied Sciences. “At the same time, the City will be saving potable water now spent on irrigation and creating new amenities for park visitors.”  The nutrient-rich stormwater recycled for irrigation will provide an added boon to the new landscape by fertilizing trees and grass.

New park amenities, designed by Applied Sciences’ project partner Ekistics Design Studio, will transform what are now sterile treatment ponds into a new focal point for the park.   Features include a 1/2-mile paved recreation loop, hundreds of new pine and cypress trees, native  shoreline plantings, restored woodland areas, park benches, and interpretive and educational signage. The park currently features lighted basketball courts, sand volleyball courts and a recreation center. Enhancements will essentially double the amount of usable recreational space for families and residents.

Prior to redesign, the park had what amounted to two single-purpose facilities: ponds and park, but they weren’t integrated, according to Tom Levin of Ekistics.   Recreational enhancements such as the loop trail, and reintroduced pine trees in upland areas and cypress trees near the shoreline, will functionally and aesthetically connect the areas.

The project demonstrates the benefits of multi-purposing – looking beyond conventional engineering fixes to create recreational and public spaces that integrate rather than isolate stormwater treatment.

Applied Sciences’ principal project tasks included hydrologic investigations and modeling of existing conditions and alternative designs; LID options for incorporation into the retrofit and park redesign; design and permitting of the stormwater ponds; and construction bid services and inspection.