Communication Builds Our Community

Northwest Neighborhood Sidewalk and Street Tree Project Slated to Begin Soon

Effort Will Repair, Replace, or Install New Sidewalks in Area

A new city effort will see the construction of about a mile of new sidewalk and the planting of scores of new street trees in Lake Wales.

The long-neglected Northwest Neighborhood of Lake Wales, subject of a two-year Community Redevelopment Agency effort to improve housing, will soon benefit from an investment in new sidewalks and street trees. Residents will see some disruption as the improvements are made.

Robert Connors

Street trees are an important part of the wellness of a city, contributing both physical and psychological benefits, according to research. Lake Wales is engaged in an extensive program to recreate the "City in a Garden" intended by city founders and Frederick Law Olmsted, who created the town's landscape plans. Private non-profit Lake Wales Heritage is addressing the streetscapes in areas outside the CRA zones.

The project is only the first portion of the two-phase project, City Manager James Slaton told city commissioners.

The first phase of the project will include repairing existing sidewalks and constructing new ones along the blocks of streets in the area bounded by Florida Avenue and Dr. J. A. Wiltshire Avenue, between G and E Streets. New sidewalks will also increase safety for students walking to J.H. Wilson Elementary School, located on Florida Avenue.

The city received a Community Development Block Grant CARES Act (CDBG-CV) grant of $1,193,660 to fund the effort, part of the Lake Wales Connected plan. The project will include planting new street trees along more than 20 blocks of the area.

The contract was awarded to Garcia Civil Contractors of Orlando, the lowest of six bidders who responded to the city's request. That bid in the amount of $536,436.73 will require only half the grant that has been awarded. The project will be extended to the balance of the Northwest Neighborhood within city limits in a second phase, according to city officials.

A survey of the area, conducted as part of the grant application, indicated that 241 households and 486 individuals will benefit from the improvements.

Courtesy City of Lake Wales

This map depicts the planned new and repaired sidewalks within the boundaries of the current project area, which is confined between E and G Streets north of Dr. J.A. Wiltshire Boulevard.

Of those benefiting, 78.76% were listed as low-to-moderate income individuals, while 40.71% fell into the very low income category, a measurement of the economically-depressed area.

Raising the income levels and standard of living in the Northwest Neighborhood is seen as a critical step in improving the quality of life for residents.

The street trees will carry a host of benefits for residents, including cooler streets, cleaner air, increased property values, and noise abatement, as well as psychological benefits and increased pride of place. The Connected plan calls for new street trees city-wide.


Reader Comments(1)

Nonanita writes:

A nice tree canopy is always welcome on the streets of Lake Wales. I hope that after the NW area sidewalks are refurbished the city will look to the historic district east of Scenic Hwy where the sidewalks and the streets are in bad shape.