When Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan tossed his shovel of dirt at the groundbreaking of the new and improved Branchton Regional Park last month, he did so with one thing in mind — this is going to be more than just a park. It’s going to be a destination.
Work has begun on the area’s latest county park project, bringing a host of activities to 43 acres just off the southwest corner of Morris Bridge Rd. and Cross Creek Blvd.
The current Branchton Park — a large patch of nature with a trail, basketball court and small playground — is being re-created just south of its current location.
“Currently, it’s a very beautiful, picturesque park,” Hagan said, “but really, it only has a small playground and basketball court, with a shelter. We’re going to turn it into a destination.”
That will involve a larger playground, four pickleball courts, all-sports courts for basketball, volleyball and other sports, a splash pad and walking trails, to name a few of the amenities.
And, that’s just the start.
“It gets even better, because that’s only Phase 1,” Hagan said. “The next phase will have a dog park for both large and small dogs, an event pavilion, additional walking trails with a boardwalk, and a really cool…zipline, which will be the first one in Hillsborough County.”
The zipline is expected to be a private-public venture, and Hagan said he hopes to add more private-backed amenities in the future.
Hagan also has broached the idea of adding a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office substation to the area. He says he has already secured the $6 million needed to complete the first phase of the park’s upgrades, which could be completed by sometime in 2023.
Two years ago, the county polled local residents about their preferred amenities. More than 500 people responded online to the survey, and the county has incorporated many of those requests into the new park’s design.
“When we build this park, there will be something here for everyone,” said Rick Valdez, director of the county’s Parks & Recreation Department. “From birth to 90 years old, there’s going to be something that you can come out and enjoy at this park.”