Turf to replace grass in Dunedin's Pioneer Park

Quiet streets and friendly faces give Dunedin a sense of small-town charm, and at the heart of it is John R. Lawrence Pioneer Park.

“It's beautiful, it's so pristine looking right now and it's so natural and I love it," said Cynthia Hook, a local resident.

It’s home to the Dunedin Market and countless concerts and festivals. It's become a favorite spot for locals.

“I do come down here about twice a week and walk around the park," said Hook.

That's why the city plans to give it a modern, cost-effective facelift in 2021. One of those options includes replacing the grass with turf and concrete. 

"In general the park looks tired, it needs a boost. It's a key focal area in our downtown. It's really the heartbeat," said Dunedin's Director of Economic & Housing Development, Bob Ironsmith, during a Community Redevelopment Agency meeting.

The city says the turf would fix a big problem as foot traffic through the park has left the grass looking bare. 

“We even do a little seeding during the winter months, but it just, it's hard, because you put the seed down and the market comes back in, it's tough to grow," said Vince Gizzi, Dunedin's Parks and Recreation Director.

The turf would last for about ten years, and they’ve already added it to two nearby playgrounds. However, not all residents are convinced.

"I know the turf would probably be more economic for the city, but I'd like to see the charm stay," said Tara, another local resident.

While the majority of city commissioners were on board, one did have some concerns as well.

“I'm concerned about the turf, while they have made great advancements in turf, it's still plastic, it's still basically a plastic rug," said Commissioner Jeff Gow.

The city is still currently in its planning phase. They told FOX 13 that nothing is set in stone, including replacing the grass with turf. The current plan would cost them around $400,000.

They plan to rework the plans and discuss the topic again towards the end of the year.