Communication Builds Our Community

City Creating Master Plan for Parks, Trails, Open Spaces

City leaders are continuing to cast an eye towards improving the quality of life by approving the creation of a master plan for parks, trails and open spaces in Lake Wales.

Commissioners have approved the hiring of S&ME to come up with the plan, a process that will involve a number of public workshops and meetings, and should take around 10 months to complete, according to the Orlando-based firm.

"A master plan will serve as a guiding tool in order to elevate the current level of services, existing facilities and identify gaps and opportunities for future parks, trails, and open spaces," noted City Manager James Slaton.

Several years ago, commissioners identified improved recreation opportunities as a priority. Since then, the city has completed its purchase of the Lake Wales Family YMCA, and hired Sports Facility Advisors (SFA) to perform a feasibility study to explore the possibility of expanding an existing recreation facility or constructing a new facility that will meet the current and future needs of Lake Wales. The scope of the SFA proposal includes a market analysis, a business development plan, a financial forecast, and an economic impact analysis.

In addition, many aspects of the comprehensive Dover Kohl "Lake Wales Connected" plan, which is at its beginnings, include walkability and green space as important pillars of their vision for downtown and the northwest neighborhood.

Commissioner Curtis Gibson said it was important that all the firms involved in the different but related ongoing studies work together for a shared vision. Slaton noted that S&ME is already working with the city and many of the outside groups like Dover Kohl. Currently, S&ME is working as a consultant or sub-consultant for the Crystal Lake Park Connector Trail, Northwest Sidewalks Plan Development, Market Plaza Design, and Park Avenue Streetscape Design.

"We're very fortunate to have S&ME, Chastain Skillman and Dover Kohl. They work together very well," Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson said. "I just believe we have exceptional outfits working for us, and they have assigned their best people to us. I'm very pleased with how it's all working and what it portends."

S&ME will have kick off meetings with City Staff before moving on to the Lake Wales Recreation Advisory Committee and additional stakeholders to get their feedback. Those groups will include: entities such as the Lake Wales Soccer Club, Lake Wales Pram Fleet, Police Athletic League, Lake Wales Family YMCA, Lake Wales Little League, Webber International University, Warner University, Polk County Public School District and the Lake Wales Charter School System.

The parks, trails and green open space master plan will cost $162,206. The study's funding had already been accounted for in the current 2020-21 budget, with recreation impact fees being utilized.

"I'm so glad to see things like this moving forward," added Mayor Eugene Fultz. "They've laid dormant for so long, we've been waiting for some good things to happen. Now it's all coming together as one."

To follow along with the progress of the Recreation Master Plan, visit


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