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City's Trail Network to See Major Expansion

New Links and Loops will Make Biking, Walking Trips Easier

The popular network of walking and biking trails weaving through Lake Wales is about to grow a great deal better, thanks to grants received by the city.

New planned segments include the Ridge Scenic Highway Connector Trail that will connect the western end of the Lake Wales Trailway to the new Park Avenue Trail near Crystal Lake. It will run south along Third Street from a point just west of the Lake Wales Little Theatre, thereby also accessing the Lake Wailes Trail.

Courtesy Catalyst Design

A proposed trail around the north side of Crystal Lake was subject of a public workshop at the beginning of the design phase. The new segment will eventually link the new Park Avenue Trail with the Ridge Scenic Highway Trail.

That linkage will finally answer years of complaints that the Trailway, a rails-to-trails conversion completed some 20 years ago, "didn't go anywhere," as it could only be accessed from city streets. The western end was a cul de sac at the edge of Scenic Highway.

The two existing trails are designated as part of the Florida Greenways and Trails System. They will now find a second new connection at the eastern end, as a new 12-foot wide multi-use asphalt trail loop trail around Kiwanis Park will be funded by another grant.

Much of the credit for the city's recent success in obtaining grants is due to a contract with Hale Innovations, a Florida firm specializing in obtaining federal and state funding for projects. Lee Hale, the firm's principal, has presented to the city commission and conducted a public workshop on the Kiwanis Park Trail concept before the grant was requested.

An estimated grant of $808,992 will require $44,160 in local match to build a new crossing on Lakeshore Boulevard. The Kiwanis Park Trail Loop will extend 2,400 feet along the eastern, western, and southern borders of the park.

Courtesy City of Lake Wales

The new Kiwanis Park Loop Trail will connect the eastern portions of the Lake Wailes Trail and the Laker Wales Trailway, a former railroad corridor converted to a paved trail two decades ago. The new 12-foot paved trail will accommodate bicyclists and walkers and include a protected crossing of North Lakeshore Boulevard.

The city is providing a survey of the area, which is being conducted by the engineering firm of Chastain Skillman. FDOT will use their continuing contract with Kisinger Campo & Associates (KCA) to design the trail.

The new trail "will be ADA accessible and provide access to Kiwanis Park's soccer field, and skate park," according to a city staff report to the commission. It will include a crosswalk with flashing beacons at the crossing on North Lakeshore Boulevard. An existing chain link fence will be replaced along the southwestern portion of the park.

The city is also using Hale Innovations to pursue a grant for a Tower Boulevard Trail, which would be 12-foot wide trail running a 2,400 feet along Tower Boulevard, connecting the Lake Wailes Trail, the Trailway, and the future Kiwanis Park Loop Trail to Bok Tower Gardens. This project would also include amenities such as benches and trash receptacles. That application, which was submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Office of Greenways and Trails in February, totals $293,250.


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