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By Robert Connors
Managing Editor 

Railroad Corridor Landscaping to Enhance "Garden City" Effort

City Renegotiates Lease to Allow New Trees, Shrubs, Fencing

 

Last updated 7/7/2022 at 9:52am

Image Courtesy City of Lake Wales

Scenic Highway's passage through downtown Lake Wales will quite a bit more scenic upon completion of new efforts planned by city staff.

Plans to add multiple new shade trees, shrubs, flowering plants and fencing are moving forward under the terms of a new lease between the City of Lake Wales and Florida Midland Railroad. The railroad owns a highly-visible corridor through the center of town which already hosts a number of buildings associated with the Lake Wales History Museum. The project will include safety and security fencing on both sides of the rail line.

Although the corridor extends southward for a quarter-mile or more, the current project will address the northern end of the corridor, from Park Avenue to Sessoms Avenue, connecting to the new Park Avenue Trail along Crystal Lake. The second phase will stretch from Park Avenue to the museum.

Project Coordinator Michael Manning of the City of Lake Wales described the project at the "Scenic Highway Gateway Corridor" in a memo to city commissioners, saying it "truly functions as the gateway to Historic Downtown Lake Wales."

"Design plans call for cathedral live oaks, canary island date palms, Japanese privet, slash pines, hollies, and crepe myrtles, along with various shrubs, small palms, grasses, and perennials," Manning said of the design, which was created by city horticulturist Lester Gulledge.

"Coupled with the City's Park Avenue Streetscape, 1st Street Streetscape, Park Avenue Connector Trail and Market Plaza enhancement, these landscape improvements will help achieve the City's goal of becoming a "City in a Garden," Manning said.

Image Courtesy City of Lake Wales

The work on the Scenic Highway railroad corridor will be funded partly through a T-Mobile grant of $48,623 that was awarded to pay for landscaping the park, which borders Scenic Highway opposite the public library. The city continues to seek grants from a variety of sources, and has already obtained an $800,000 Federal grant that will be used for beautification of portions of Crystal and Orange Avenues. Manning anticipates that any funds remaining from those projects may be used to install new Washingtonia Palms along Tillman Avenue, an effort espoused by Lake Wales Heritage.

 

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