Touchton Park Information Meeting flyer2

Renovation at Touchton Park to begin in Dade City

By Meaghan Goepferich Posted on August 28, 2023

An Informational Meeting about the Touchton Park Renovation Project will be held at the
Dade City Garden Club, 13630 5th Street, Dade City, on Friday, September 15, 2023, at 1 pm.

Renovation at Touchton Park to begin in Dade City

The purpose of the Informational Meeting is to inform as many citizens as possible about this project. Tom Touchton, who is funding the Project and Jason Warrenfeltz, Dade City Public Works Director, will be in attendance. Images of the proposed Park will be available for viewing, and questions will be

Dade City residents know the park across 5th Street from the Dade City Garden Club (and bounded by
Southview Avenue, 5th Street, Bougainvillea Avenue and 7th Street), as the Ruth Embry “Miss Polly”
Touchton Park. “Miss Polly” was a Charter Member of the Garden Club and was active in it until her
death in 1986 at the age of 99.

She was much-admired in the community because of her many interests and involvements, and Dade City’s Commissioners named the Park in her memory soon after her death.

The Park is maintained by the City, and the Garden Club has participated with the City in certain ways
over the years—especially with the planting of Memorial Trees from time to time and in hosting the
Dade City Monarch Butterfly Festival at the Park.

One of “Miss Polly’s” grandsons, Tom Touchton (who lives in Tampa and whose mother was the second
President of the Dade City Garden Club in 1949-50), has been working with City Commissioners and Staff
for the last 18 months on a plan to substantially renovate the Park, which he will fund. The plan includes
the planting of more trees and shrubs, the leveling of some of the east side of the Park along 5th Street
(where the elevation change is substantial), the addition of some irrigation and underground utilities,
the removal of many small trees, and the addition of sidewalks and new picnic tables as well as a
retaining wall within the Park to balance the new “upper” and “lower” levels.

Importantly, the City will be installing new underground storm water drainage along Southview Avenue and 5th Street as well as participating in the creation of new parking spaces on those streets.

Mr. Touchton has included Garden Club leadership in his planning process from the very beginning and
has met often with its representatives. Because the Park is owned by the City of Dade City, Mr. Touchton’s formal Parksite Funding and Redevelopment Agreement is necessarily with the City and has received unanimous support from the City Commissioners. Garden Club leaders have been important advisors in the project not only because the Garden Club is a neighbor but also because it has sponsored many of the tree plantings in the Park during the last 25+ years.

The entire Park will be fenced during construction for obvious safety and security reasons. The renovation will result in a substantially more beautiful Park that will benefit Dade City going forward. Mr. Touchton has also committed to establish an Endowment Fund to provide some additional annual funding to help maintain the improved Park after its renovation. Responsibility for maintaining the Park will remain with the City, whose Public Works Director Jason Warrenfeltz will attend the Informational Meeting.

Some of the trees to be removed are previous Memorial Trees planted by the City and other organizations. “All of us involved in this project are working to find the best way to recognize those
Memorials,” said Touchton. “Suggestions include putting a Master Plaque in the renovated Park or
elsewhere in the City for example, or hosting a Memorial Tree Directory online. We want the community
to know, however, we are aware of the issue and are working hard to come up with the best solution.”



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