Parks Master Plans to be Developed for Seven City Parks

Document Will Guide Future Recreation Facilities Development

 

Last updated 3/27/2023 at 5:01pm

Robert Connors

Protecting the environment was the top priority of 10 listed when citizens were surveyed at Monday's Lake Wales Envisioned kick-off meeting. Many raised objections to past proposals for new facilities that would impact the historic parks, such as Lake Wailes Park, pictured.

A major effort to develop a master plan to govern the future development of seven parks in the City of Lake Wales is the goal of a new contract Catalyst Design Group. The project was recently approved by the city commission.

The planning effort will cover Lake Wailes Park, Kiwanis Park and Crystal Lake Park, which form the core of the city's park system. It will also include the city's soccer complex on Hunt Brothers Road, the Northwest Complex/Frasier Field park, the Little League Sports Complex, and North Lake Wailes Park.

The Lake Wales Recreation Division is charged with balancing the recreational needs of residents with the strong desire that natural areas be protected. The new Parks and Recreation Master Plan effort is expected to confront those same issues.

Catalyst Design Group is described as an innovative, multidisciplinary firm with expertise in planning, civil engineering, and landscape architecture. The planning is a $46,850.00 effort to understand the potential of the parks and plan the best placement of future facilities.

Future investments in recreational facilities could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to existing proposals, so the expenditure was described as essential planning during discussions. CDG is to develop conceptual master plans for each of the parks based upon surveys, architectural and civil engineering, topography, tree surveys, and existing conceptual designs available to city staff.

The effort follows a 2021 "Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment," which led to proposals to create a variety of new facilities, including new piers and boat launch facilities on city lakes. Some residents described that as unwanted and unneeded at a commission meeting. Residents have raised objections to other past proposals for new facilities, which included using open space to create such features as ball courts and splash-pads in Crystal Lake Park.

Lake Wales Parks and Recreation is charged with balancing the recreational needs of residents with the strong desire that natural areas be protected. The new Parks and Recreation Master Plan effort is expected to confront those same issues.

Recreation Director Stephanie Edwards told LakeWalesNews.net that citizen input will definitely be sought for the master plan. "Rest assured, we will definitely be asking for comments and ideas," Edwards said.

A four-acre park in the Druid Hills subdivision east of Lake Wales Medical Center was excluded from the planning. That unused site has been proposed as a potential "Olmsted Heritage Park" to feature restored native habitats under a proposal from Lake Wales Heritage.

CDG has previously provided expert landscape architectural services to the city on the Park Avenue and Marketplace Streetscape, First Street Streetscape, and Crystal Lake Park Trail, according to a staff report to the commission.

 

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