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Islander’s legacy grows with Anna Maria landscaping donation

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Island philanthropist Rex Hagen has agreed in principle to fund the landscaping for the city park approved by Anna Maria commissioners June 27.

The park will take up the six lots at the corner of Pine Avenue and Bay Boulevard that the city purchased for $3 million in 2011.

Commissioner Gene Aubry, an architect, drew the park plan, which provides parking for 15 cars on the south end of the property. The parking will be surrounded by trees and have egresses on Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard.

Hagen, a 30-year resident of the island, formerly residing in Holmes Beach and now in Anna Maria, has a history of contributing to civic efforts. He said Aubry had impressed him.

“Aubry’s a genius,” Hagen said.

He and Aubry plan to work closely on the trees needed to landscape the perimeter of the park. The interior of the park will remain open space, Aubry said.

Hagen said he didn’t yet have an estimate on the cost.

Aubry said middle-age native trees will be planted, and an irrigation system will provide water for the first year. Aubry’s approved plan shows 15-30 trees.

The park would include a unisex bathroom and benches.

Hagen and his late wife Helen contributed in the past to the Holmes Beach skateboard park and, most recently, Rex Hagen made a donation to the Holmes Beach dog park, which boasts a shelter dedicated to Helen.

The couple long ago funded the Anna Maria Island Community Center tennis courts, among other contributions to improve recreation in the two cities.

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