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By Robert Connors
Managing Editor 

Monday "Envisioned" Events to Shape Future of Lake Wales

Public Invited to Register to Attend Free Sessions at Bok Tower Gardens

 

Last updated 3/21/2023 at 8:17pm

Robert Connors

Citizens are invited to add their ideas, suggestions, and comments as plans are laid to shape the future of "Olmsted's Garden City in 10, 25, and 50 Years."

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the future livability of Lake Wales begins Monday at Bok Tower Gardens as a high-powered team of planners bring their national reputations. talents, and insights to bear on the city.

The project, designated "Lake Wales Envisioned," will consider the future of a large area around the city and include topics ranging from parks, recreation, and conservation to future sites for commercial, residential, and industrial uses. Transportation and water needs will also be considered.

Working under the tagline of "Olmsted's Garden City in 10, 25. and 50 years," the resulting plan is expected to provide a roadmap to a sustainable future for Lake Wales, free of urban sprawl. The state-wide significance of the effort is underlined by the involvement of the University of Miami, Rollins College, and 1000 Friends of Florida.

With more than a dozen major developments already on the drawing boards for Lake Wales and the surrounding areas, the effort is particularly significant for residents, many of whom have expressed concerns about the impacts of growth on the lifestyle here.

The ambitious process will kick off with two inter-connected sessions beginning at 2:00 Monday in the theatre at the Garden's visitors center. That afternoon session will see a group of experts share "best practices" concepts.

The evening will see a follow-up discussion beginning at 6:30 which will review the concepts and hear from residents about their ideas and impressions. The project is being funded by the City of Lake Wales and co-hosted by numerous educational and civic organizations.

Those wishing to attend either of two sessions are asked to reserve a seat through the website at lakewalesenvisioned.com. Admission to Bok Tower Gardens will be free for all attendees.

Among speakers presenting Tuesday afternoon will be Victor Dover, FAICP, a nationally recognized innovator in city planning, traditional neighborhood design, and street design. He will be joined by Wade Walker, PE, and Jonathan Paul. The three make a team of community and transportation planners who will share a variety of highly-successful strategies that have successfully reinvigorated declining urban neighborhoods and defined growth areas with sustainable designs.

Also on the afternoon agenda are Vince Graham and Marcela Camblor-Cutsaimanis, AICP, a town planner and leader in the public and private sectors implementing traditional neighborhood development. Graham is a developer who has used advanced principles to create successful communities using those principles.

Also presenting will be Steve Nygren and Dr. Jay Exum. The pair will discuss "The Big Green Network," sharing how might we develop responsibly while still preserving and protecting what makes the Lake Wales Ridge special, and providing access for people to parks and open spaces.

This kickoff event will be followed by a webinar on March 29 featuring renowned new urbanist Joe Minicozzi, who will take "a deep dive into city economics, community growth, and urban design." Preregistration for that event is also available at lakewalesenvisioned.com.

The envisioning effort will continue April 14 to include a week-long series of meetings, charettes, hands-on designing sessions, and an open planning studio, capped by a summary presentation of progress to date on April 20. Public input will be sought throughout the process, giving residents a sense of ownership of the final product. The entire process is expected to take six months or more.

Among local sponsors of the process are Lake Wales Heritage, Lake Wales Main Street, Wales Pointe Restaurant, Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Wales News.net, and Bok Tower Gardens.

 

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