Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin's Newest Park Boasts Variety of Recreation; A Playground, Sports Fields and a Trail Are Just a Few Options

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin's Newest Park Boasts Variety of Recreation; A Playground, Sports Fields and a Trail Are Just a Few Options

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

The crack of the bat will soon be heard in a stretch of wooded city land bordered by Interstate 95 and Julington Creek, as Mandarin's newest regional park has a planned opening in late March or early April.

Construction on Palmetto Leaves Regional Park's four-field baseball complex has been visible off the interstate between Greenland and Old St. Augustine roads for months.

More sports fields are planned there, but there's no money for them now. Still, city recreation officials say what's on deck now should fill a big need in Mandarin.

It's one of the biggest park projects currently underway, said recreation department spokeswoman Pam Wilson.

"Everyone knows the Mandarin area is growing by leaps and bounds, and it is important to provide as much quality recreation and leisure opportunities," she said. "This park strikes the perfect balance between active and passive because there are recreational opportunities like the ball fields and those planned in the future. There are also trails and lots of green space away from the action."

The Mandarin Sports Association, which also handles hundreds of spring and fall baseball programs at the city's Alberts Field at 10273 Brady Road, will manage games at the new park. Four fields is four times the room for the estimated 200 players in their girls' softball program now, plus they can host some city tournaments and advanced softball programs as well.

"We are obviously extremely excited. Our girls softball will take off when we get out there," said MSA President David Stricklin. "We have been so space constrained in our current park. ... And being centrally situated means we could expand our population of girls who can play."

Palmetto Leaves Regional Park is a 362-acre site that cost $4 million, most of which was paid for with a Florida Communities Trust grant, with a 12 percent city match. …

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