By Tamas Mondovics
After years of planning and months of construction, FishHawk and surrounding area residents are only days away from witnessing the completion of FishHawk Sports Complex expansion project. County officials presented their expansion plans in connection with the complex, located at 16120 FishHawk Blvd. in Lithia, nearly five years ago. The existing complex was built in 2008 with eight ball fields, four multi-purpose fields, concession stand, restrooms and parking.
By 2012, the facility was facing a problem of overcrowding with teams fighting for fields and often playing late into the night.
“We are 95 percent done with the project, opening in June,” said Project Manager Chris Postiglione.
The construction by QGS Development Inc., totaling $3.1 million, included several elements including the expansion of the existing sports complex with four additional multi-purpose Bermuda grass practice fields as well as associated on-site and off-site improvements such as sports lighting, access drives, a 200-space parking lot, brand new concession, restroom and storage buildings, as well as landscaping, irrigation, storm drainage system, sidewalks, and fences.
Postiglione emphasized that the new fields, including the two by Randall, are all sized for soccer, which means they are the large enough to accommodate other sports such as youth football.
The initial planning phase of the expansion raised some concerns among residents living within the Starling community, just west of the complex. Upon their return, County officials presented a new plan, which pushed the fields approximately 300 feet away from the Starling community. The new plan was the result of much cooperation between FishHawk Ranch developer Newland Communities, Hillsborough County Parks Department and the County Public School Board.
In exchange, the property dedicated to the county west of the complex (the originally planned site) became a conservation lot with a dedicated habitat for gopher tortoises. The land swap cost Newland $150,000 due to necessary work to prepare the new tortoise habitat.
“The revised plan means more work for us and some cost, but it helps accommodate everyone’s needs,” Newland Communities Tampa North Vice President and General Manager Tom Panaseny said during a phone interview before the project began. A grand opening to celebrate the completion of the project is scheduled for later this summer. Visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org.