Holmes Beach opens Tebbetts Field to pets, tots, horseshoes

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A city field redesign in Holmes Beach includes resurfacing the infield on Birdie Tebbetts Field near 61st Street. The baseball diamond would be eliminated and the outfield would be reduced to no longer accommodate regulation games, but could be used by softball and baseball players willing to bring bases and play on the reduced field. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
An overlay shows proposed city field improvements, including the relocation and expansion of the existing large dog park into the baseball infield. Islander Courtesy Graphic

Holmes Beach city commissioners are aiming for the fences.

Along Flotilla Drive, city field is an odd-shaped grassy space peppered with a gazebo and two dog parks, one for small dogs and one for large canines.

It’s also the home of Birdie Tebbetts Field, a baseball field dedicated for the Major League manager and catcher who lived many years and raised his family in Holmes Beach.

Under a plan presented by engineer Lynn Burnett at an Oct. 23 commission workshop, the city-owned property between 59th and 62nd streets would be reconfigured to better serve the community for events, such as National Night Out, and for dog park users and sports enthusiasts alike.

Fencing that now separates the ballfield from the event area would come down. An 8-foot chain-link fence is planned to separate the multiuse field from the large dog park.

The 0.59-acre large dog park would be expanded to 0.86 acres and constructed over what is now the infield of Tebbetts Field, with resurfacing — grass, artificial turf or another material, still to be decided — and the relocation of an existing shade structure for dog owners and other dog park amenities.

New bocce, horseshoe and shuffleboard courts are planned in the northeast corner.

The tot lot would be relocated from Marina Drive to the southeast corner next to the gazebo.

And, according to Burnett, there’s room for a children’s splash park and a swingset or two near the gazebo.

Before presenting the proposal — previously agreed to by commissioners at an Oct. 9 workshop — the city engineer told the assemblage she received calls and emails asking the reason for the plans.

The configuration and fencing for the large and small dog parks and the ballfield left the city with “no room to update or modernize” and there is a desire to maximize open space, Burnett said.

Another issue that “started the ball rolling” centered on the undesirable location of the tot lot near Marina Drive.

Under the new proposal, the Officer Pete Lannon Skate Park will be improved at its current location, 5901 Marina Drive. A tree and plaque dedicated to Helen Hagen will remain in the promenade park.

The work is proposed to span two fiscal years, with a $200,000 price tag for this year and $100,600 budgeted for 2019-20.

The plan also includes five parking spaces near the dog parks and overflow boat and vehicle parking near 62nd Street and the boat ramp at 63rd Street.

Commissioner Pat Morton called the city field plan “a good idea.”

Commission Chair Judy Titsworth said, “I like it.”

Commissioner Rick Hurst said he liked it but wanted to make sure there’s a sufficient sound barrier and landscaping near the neighbors on 61st Street.

Burnett responded there’s a “healthy buffer now,” including tidal areas, trees, grasses and other vegetation, as well as a setback between the dog parks and houses.”

A consensus was reached for Burnett to move forward and get bids on the plan.

Each amenity will go to the full board for approval, Titsworth said.

According to a schedule presented Oct. 9, the work will start with the tot lot relocation and construction of the new shuffleboard, horseshoe and bocce courts.

After the tot lot moves, the construction staging area at 62nd and Flotilla will be relocated adjacent to the public works area on Marina Drive.

Next up, according to the work schedule, would be the construction of the large dog park.

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