During Saturday's opening ceremony for Lime Lake Park, speaker after speaker brought up the name Euline Myrick. Myrick, they said, was responsible for organizing and motivating a community to turn the blighted piece of land into a beautiful, usable park.
"It was never about me, it was about my organization, our organization," Myrick said. "The people that you see here."
A stormwater pond, trash, overrun plants — this is what described the property. "They found concrete in the lake, a bicycle in the lake and I think they pulled a car out of the lake," said John McCarthy of Sarasota County Parks and Recreation. "This was a no man's land. This was a place of hopelessness."
It was a place that no one seemed to care about until two tragic incidents shed light on the lack of a safe place to play for area children. McCarthy told the story of a six-year-old boy who was riding his bike on a nearby street and was killed after a car hit him. He said the boy had no safe place to play.
McCarthy said this event is what inspired Myrick to come up with a plan for the land.
"And if that wasn’t bad enough, one year later (in October 2008) a young toddler crawls into a lake and drowns," McCarthy said.
To make the park, located at 2020 North Lime Ave., a reality, a lot of pieces had to align. The Sarasota County School Board had to deed over a portion of the property, there had to be a funding source and there had to be community support, McCarthy said.
The pieces did align.
Myrick met with county staff, community organizers and with the help of the North County Community Organization helped bring attention to the land.
"Did you ever think we'd get here from where we started?" asked county commissioner Carolyn Mason. "We all want to celebrate the grand opening of this beautiful park, but we [also] want to celebrate the small group of people who created this project."
Myrick and the North County Community Organization, Mason said, are the main reasons the park is now open and area children have a safe place to be.
"This is a group whose persistence made the difference in what you see here today," she said. "Don’t ever say a few people can’t make a difference. You can, you did and others should because of your example."
Myrick and Mason said the group started, mowing, cutting down exotic plants and doing community cleanups so that other people in the community could the potential for a park.
"We are the ones out here in the trenches," Myrick said during a speech on Saturday. "Those you who haven’t been in the trenches we invite you to come on board. Support this beautiful park."
"I'm proud to be a part of a governmental [board] that collaborated to do the right thing," said Vice Chair of the Sarasota County School Board Caroline Zucker. "The Community relentlessly pursued their vision, and we listened intently."
The school board had to deed over a half acre of land for the project to come to fruition. The park is just south of .
Part of the improvements and amenities to Lime Lake is new security fencing, a stormwater pond with fountain, wide walking trails, a fishing pier, gazebo and picnic areas.
Funding for the approximately $850,000 project was provided through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, a Community Development Block Grant, Surtax III (the one-cent infrastructure surtax) and general funds.