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Venice Oks upgrade for Wellfield Park

For almost a decade, Mark Reese, president of The Venice Area Youth Soccer Association, has been asking Sarasota County to put up netting at Wellfield Park to stop errant soccer balls from flying into a pond that serves as habitat for snakes and alligators.

Tuesday, the Venice City Council took steps to buy and install netting to remedy that situation. It also took steps to improve a communication gap between the city and Sarasota County, which splits responsibilities for 12 city-owned parks, including the 160-acre Wellfield Park on Pinebrook Road.

In the short term, council members directed City Manager Ed Lavallee to spend up to $30,000 to install the nets to eliminate the need for players to jump into the pond to retrieve soccer balls.

For the long term, they directed Lavallee to work with Sarasota County and the existing sports organizations to determine where the park needs to be improved.

“I think this is a really good solution ... to addressing some of our current needs quickly,” Vice Mayor Jeanette Gates said.