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(158) stories found containing 'lake wales cra'


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  • Park Avenue Streetscape Project Advances, Only Tip of the Vast Connected Plan Effort

    Robert Connors|Updated May 6, 2024

    A new Park Avenue is steadily emerging in downtown Lake Wales as work continues on the first phase of a multi-million dollar reimagining of the city's heart. The ongoing work is creating a shady pedestrian oasis in the heart of the city, replete with rows of spreading live oaks, new benches, lighting, wider sidewalks, and brick-paved streets and parking areas. The stretch of Park Avenue between First and Market streets is rapidly nearing completion, offering business owners an...

  • Roosevelt Academy Programs Producing Workforce-Ready Graduates

    Casey Gist, News Correspondent|Updated Apr 6, 2024

    A new welding program at Roosevelt Academy is allowing students to learn basic and advanced welding techniques, preparing them for immediate careers. Students involved in the program also receive dual enrollment credits that could be used to further their welding training at Ridge Technical College. Seniors planning to take the test this year, including Fred Miller, Joseph Fletcher, McLens Pierre, and Juan Villalpando, will receive certification by the American Welding...

  • City Anticipates $23 Million Grant to Complete "Connected" Project

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Apr 2, 2024

    A grant application for the "Complete Streets redesign of remaining portions of 1st Street, Central Avenue, and Lincoln Avenue" has been given a high probability of success by a grant consultant working for the City of Lake Wales. The application seeks 100 percent funding for the redesign and reconstruction of most of First Street North, Lincoln Avenue, and single blocks of Central Avenue and A Street. The total project costs included in the application are $22,930,000, which...

  • Court Clears Path for Redevelopment of Walesbilt Hotel, Rules in Favor of City

    Suzie Schottelkotte and Robert Connors|Updated Mar 12, 2024
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    BARTOW - A Circuit Court ruling Thursday has set the stage for reverting ownership of the historic Walesbilt Hotel in Lake Wales back to the city, ending a years-long legal battle for control of the 10-story building. Circuit Judge William T. Sites ruled that the current owner, Dixie-Walesbilt LLC's Raymond Brown, fraudulently induced the city into contracting with him to redevelop the property, and ultimately to sign the deed over to Brown, according to the ruling. The...

  • A Free Press Serves as a Watchdog on Government and Politicians

    News Editorial Board|Updated Mar 1, 2024

    Government is complicated. Elected officials, even those responsible for leading a city such as Lake Wales with its billion-dollar budget, face a multitude of questions and issues. It is certainly not within the capacity of any one individual to have total awareness of every matter that must be decided. The role of the press as a watchdog over government is a long-established principle, one that has for nearly 250 years of American history served to keep politicians on the str...

  • Facts, Not innuendo, Should Guide City Business, Citizen Behavior

    News Editorial Board|Updated Feb 22, 2024

    People often look to their perceived "leaders" for guidance on conduct. In an atmosphere of charged and heated politics on a national level, it is no wonder that people are too often quick to accuse or insinuate wrongdoing even in their hometowns. Lake Wales is not immune from such behavior. Such problems can be exacerbated when evidence arises, as it sometimes will, that political decisions have resulted in unexpected outcomes. When that happens, the solution is neither ignoring the problems nor making wild accusations of...

  • Lake Alta Proposal Modified by Developer, No Longer Impacts Park

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Feb 17, 2024

    A development proposal adjacent to Lake Alta on the near north side of Lake Wales has been modified by the developer in an apparent attempt to reach a compromise with neighboring residents. Growth Management Division Director Autumn Cochella attended a Community Redevelopment Agency meeting this week to explain to commissioners that developer J. Walter Homes will bring a new proposal back to the city's Planning and Zoning Board at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 27, calling...

  • Lake Wales Has a Good "Squeeze" Coming

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Feb 17, 2024

    In an effort to help address the need for transportation around the downtown area, City Manager James Slaton and staff have brought another solution forward. The "Squeeze" is an eight-passenger open vehicle which has already proven successful in downtown Lakeland, according to Erin Killebrew, who presented the concept during a special presentation to the Community Redevelopment Agency board. The proposal would provide the vehicle as a free service to riders needing to move...

  • City Commission, CRA Considering Sale of City Park For Apartment Complex

    News Staff reports|Updated Feb 15, 2024

    A "pocket park" lying in a quiet neighborhood of single-family homes on the near north side of the city may be converted to a parking lot to serve a new housing complex, Lake Wales News has learned. The Lake Wales City Commission approved a "consent agenda" item on January 16 transferring ownership of the 3.566 acre Lake Alta Park to the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency. The city commission also sits as the CRA board. That body can negotiate property sales directly to...

  • West Park Avenue Reopens to Traffic, East Park Closes as Project Advances

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Feb 2, 2024

    While the ribbon-cutting and dedication of the newly reconstructed portions of Park Avenue and First Street remains in the planning stage, the newly-completed stretches of West Park Avenue and North First Street are now open to two-way traffic. The opening comes concurrent with the closure of the eastern portion of Park Avenue, a situation expected to last most of the year as the pavement is removed, utilities upgraded, and new sidewalks and brick streets are installed. Shoppe...

  • More Public Parking Downtown is Goal of CRA Purchase

    Robert Connors|Updated Jan 13, 2024

    More convenient public parking downtown, the subject of repeated merchant requests, will be addressed soon, according to city officials. Converting a private parking lot to a city-owned facility is on the agenda of the next meeting of the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency The board will consider the purchase of the privately-owned lot at the corner of Park Avenue and First Street at their January 9 meeting. The move is viewed as part of the ongoing reinvigoration...

  • Days Are Numbered for Grove Manor Public Housing Project as Federal Tax Credits Granted

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Jan 3, 2024

    Hopes for the compete removal and replacement of the aging Grove Manor public housing complex in Lake Wales took a major step toward reality with the recent awarding of federal income tax credits worth over $21 million that will fund the project. The announcement from City manager James Slaton brought joy to city commissioners and residents attending the weekly city commission meeting. Commissioners had agreed more than a year ago to contribute a million dollars from the...

  • Ridgecrest Development Moves Closer to Reality

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Dec 11, 2023

    The expansive Ridgecrest development took a step forward recently with the approval of a "developer's agreement" by the Lake Wales City Commission that provides for the costs of infrastructure for the 312 acre project. The previously-approved planned-development project includes 1,020 single-family and townhomes located south of Russell Avenue and north of Hunt Brothers Road, between US 27 and SR 17. Included in the design is a new multi-purpose trail that will extend from...

  • Businesses Remain Open as West Park Avenue Transformed into Shady Oasis by Construction

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Dec 6, 2023

    In nothing less than a transformation, the formerly dreary stretch of Park Avenue west of First Street is swiftly becoming an attractive green oasis intended to help draw pedestrian traffic to the heart of Lake Wales. The three-block-long stretch of the street west of Scenic Highway is the heart of the $20 million investment being made by the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency to reinvigorate the city's urban core. Conceived as "Lake Wales Connected" by a team of...

  • Historic Woman's Club Auditorium to Receive CRA Help

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Nov 29, 2023

    A CRA grant will help a local not-for-profit save an aging historic building that serves as an important civic space in downtown Lake Wales. The Lake Wales Woman's Club was awarded a $50,000 grant that will help the 100-year-old organization pay for a new roof for their auditorium at 275 East Park Avenue. The funds will also help remediate mold, according to CRA staff. The grant meets three of the goals cited in the Lake Wales Connected plan recommendations, Assistant City...

  • Lake Wales Main Street Director Honored for "Lifetime Achievement"

    Special to the News|Updated Nov 20, 2023

    Ronni Wood, a seasoned and dedicated professional in the field of downtown redevelopment, was honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the Florida Redevelopment Association (FRA). The remarkable accolade was presented during the 2023 FRA Annual Conference and Awards Reception, where the outstanding contributions of community organizations, as well as individual excellence, were celebrated. With a career spanning several decades, Ronni Wood's journey in...

  • CRA Adopts New Funding Mechanism For Downtown Investors

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Nov 15, 2023

    New life is being breathed into a significant building in the historic center of Lake Wales after actions taken by the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday. The city commission, sitting as the CRA board, also agreed to a new loan program to help local investors fund the renovation of five downtown retail units. "This is new, this is the first one," CRA Executive Director James Slayton said of the $100,000 loan toward a First Street property owned by Tammy and S...

  • Drumgo Brings High Energy to City Administration

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Nov 6, 2023

    In the high-energy future facing Lake Wales there's little doubt that high-energy management is required to keep up. As Lake Wales faces a wave of growth, with about 15,000 new residences planned to be built here in the next several years, Assistant City Manager Deena Drumgo may be the ideal person to help the city face the challenges ahead. Drumgo, the former city manager of Dundee, came to Lake Wales from Winter Haven, where she oversaw that city's community redevelopment ag...

  • New Brick Street Will Dress Up Park Avenue

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Oct 7, 2023
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    The multi-million-dollar reconstruction of Park Avenue is proceeding close to schedule, as evidenced by the hard-working crews who have been seen laying the thousands of bricks that will eventually form the surface of the new street and parking spaces. The new high-quality clay-brick pavers were selected as the most durable and traditional surface for the project after a study by engineers and architects involved in the design of the project, an early phase of the multi-phase...

  • New Community Garden Almost Ready to Launch

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Sep 16, 2023

    An opportunity to produce fresh fruits and vegetables in the heart of a "food desert" has motivated a team of volunteers to plan the city's second community garden on a plot of land next to the James P. Austin Center. Funded primarily through a grant arranged by Congressman Darren Soto, the garden will be managed by a non-profit corporation, Lake Wales Grove Garden LLC, guided by a local board of directors. The need for the garden was established through a walking survey of...

  • Orange and Crystal Avenues to Receive Major Streetscape Facelifts

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 28, 2023

    A million-dollar reconstruction of block-long stretches of Orange and Crystal Avenues is anticipated thanks to a federal grant and an intergovernmental agreement. The dramatic change will see new streetlights, street furniture, curbing, and the installation of numerous trees and other plants installed in rain gardens that will help absorb stormwater, . The work will include the resurfacing of the two streets east of First Street through and including their intersections with...

  • New BizLINC Business Incubator Expected to Spur Economic Development

    Robert Connors|Updated Aug 5, 2023

    A new business incubator funded in large part by the City of Lake Wales was celebrated at a recent ribbon cutting featuring a host of government and business representatives. The 3,570 square-foot incubator was developed from a former dental office by Florida Development Corporation, which will be moving its headquarters to the new facility from Tampa, according to city sources. Some 75 guests joined officers of the corporation for the celebration. The $1.2 million...

  • Business Incubator Opening August 1 With Ribbon Cutting

    News Staff Reports|Updated Aug 2, 2023

    The re-growth of a business district in the heart of the Northwest Neighborhood is the goal of a $1.2 million investment of American Rescue funds by the City of Lake Wales to spur creation of a business incubator. A ribbon cutting ceremony is now scheduled for noon on August 1 to mark the grand opening of BizLINC, located in a former dental office at 225 Lincoln Avenue. The grant of the federal funds last July has allowed Florida Development Corporation, a Tampa-based...

  • Ken Suarez Comes to Lake Wales

    News Staff Reports|Updated Jul 14, 2023

    A face and voice familiar to most Polk County residents will soon be sharing lots of information about Lake Wales as Ken Suarez begins his duties. No stranger to the camera, the long-time Tampa Bay-area broadcaster recently left his full-time job as a television journalist to begin serving the City of Lake Wales as part-time host of a video series about events in the area. Suarez worked for years at WINK TV in Fort Myers before moving into the Tampa market almost 35 years...

  • City Moves For Summary Judgement of "Fraud in the Inducement" to Reclaim Walesbilt Hotel

    Suzie Schotelkotte and Robert Connors|Updated Jul 3, 2023

    Lawyers for the city of Lake Wales are asking a circuit judge to rule that Ray Brown lied to city commissioners about his financing and progress in redeveloping the historic Walesbilt Hotel and that those fraudulent representations led commissioners to deed the hotel to him in 2011. If Circuit Judge William Sites rules for the city, it would pave the way for returning the partially renovated hotel, dating to 1926, back to the city. The city is suing Brown's company, Dixie Wale...

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