West Park Avenue Begins to Emerge From Construction Chaos
New Curbs Being Poured, Sidewalks to Follow on Redesigned Street
Last updated 7/11/2023 at 9:59am
Crews from Gomez Construction have made substantial progress on a block of West Park Avenue between First Street and Wetmore Street. The reconstruction is part of the $11.5 million transformation of that street and, eventually, the adjoining eastern blocks and the adjacent MarketPlace.
The Lake Wales Post office and adjacent businesses are being served from a parking lot accessible from Orange Avenue, one block to the north. Signage has been placed to direct traffic to the newly fenced facility.
The project is the first major undertaking of the ambitious $20 million project defined by the Lake Wales Connected plan, which was developed with wide public input. The finished product will feature a brick-paved street and wide sidewalks capable of hosting cafes and outdoor dining under the shade of scores of new live oaks.
The contract for this phase of the project was awarded in early December to Gomez Construction for an offered bid of $11,591,834.18. The firm maintains offices in Miami and Winter Park, and since 1994 has completed multiple projects across North and South America and the Caribbean, according to their website.
The Lake Wales Connected plan, created by a highly-regarded team of planners, traffic engineers, landscape architects, and new urbanists, spent months gathering public input and comment from Lake Wales residents before shaping them into a finished plan, which has since won statewide recognition.
A groundbreaking ceremony in January brought a large gathering of city officials and community leaders to celebrate the start of the Lake Wales Connected project.
A CGI video created by Dover Kohl & Partners portrays the entire length of Park Avenue following completion of the streetscape project. A lush canopy of street trees will be enhanced by flowering ornamentals on the opposite side of the street. West Park Avenue asphalt will be removed to allow for a triple row of Live Oaks.
The project is being funded from the proceeds of an $18.5 million bond financed entirely with CRA funds, meaning there is no liability for Lake Wales taxpayers. The funds flow from the "tax increment" generated by rising property values within the CRA district, in excess of the base year valuation.
Other elements of the Connected plan, including streetscape work on Central, Orange, and Crystal Avenues, is being funded largely with Federal grants. The plan also includes a huge sidewalk construction and street tree planting project in the Northwest Neighborhood.