Render shows the design of the large Southwest Lakeland park

A rendering presented to city commissioners on Friday gives the public a preview of the design being considered for a large new park planned for southwest Lakeland on Pipkin and Medulla roads near Lakeland Linder International Airport.

“We’re talking about almost 101.5 acres in an area that’s extremely active right now in terms of residential development,” Chuck Barmby, the city’s planning and transportation manager, told commissioners during their review meeting. on the agenda Friday.

It “is moving fast to satisfy an additional level of service for a park facility in this area. And so it’s the result of probably 10 or 15 years of investigation between parks and recreation, community development (and) others to find an appropriate view,” he said.

See a larger version

Barmby said it will be comparable in size to the combined Parker Lake and Crago Lake parks on the city’s north side.

Equipment shown in the render includes:

  • A library/leisure building
  • Multipurpose fields
  • Parks for small and large dogs
  • A playground
  • A footpath
  • Pickleball courts
  • Bathroom amenities
  • Shelters
  • Existing wetlands with ponds

The city is taking the first steps in the site development process by seeking to change the future Master Plan land use map from ‘Suburban Special Purpose’ to ‘Preservation, Conservation, Recreation’.

The Planning and Zoning Council of June 21 has already approved the land use change. The municipal commission should take care of it at its meeting on September 6.

Parks and Recreation Director Bob Donahay said earlier this month that residents of nearby housing estates were already excited, stopping his maintenance crews to ask when the park might open.

The property is adjacent to the community of Riverstone and is planned to have an entrance for residents of the neighborhood.

Barmby said the timeline was to open the park by 2030 – within eight years. But some commissioners hope to advance this date.

“This is the most common question I get from residents of this area,” City Commissioner Chad McLeod said. “Very excited about this as it should be. But when will it open? So as that changes I know you will but keep us updated and anything we can do to working towards 2030 – or maybe advancing that.

Bonnet Springs Park

City commissioners also discussed Friday morning another major Lakeland park that is one step closer to receiving a multimillion-dollar state grant and will see a street at its entrance renamed.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity awarded Lakeland nearly $43 million in Community Development Block Grants – Mitigation Funding for the Lake Bonnet Drainage Basin Debris and Flood Hazard Mitigation Project.

The project is part of and adjacent to Bonnet Springs Park, a privately funded public park due to open Oct. 22. Park officials have also previously worked to clear the waterway that crosses the property before it reaches Lake Bonnet.

“The fully repayable grant supports the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s program to fund eligible projects that demonstrably increase community resilience through infrastructure projects, such as the rehabilitation of water management systems drainage, improving drainage facilities and restoring critical infrastructure,” City Manager Shawn Sherrouse told commissioners. “The project funded by this grant will consist of wetland restoration, the development of flood mitigation and infrastructure upgrades to reduce flood risk for May Manor Mobile Home Park and surrounding areas.”

The project will consist of three phases: a feasibility study; design and engineering; and building.

The DEO is reimbursing the city for 100% of all eligible costs when the project is complete, which is currently scheduled for 2027. The city is expected to pay annual interest of approximately $157,000, which will come from unrestricted surplus from the Stormwater Utility fund. . The principal will be repaid with grant funds as they are repaid when the project is completed.

City Commissioner Sara Roberts McCarley noted that it has been 16 months since Governor Ron DeSantis announced the city’s funding.

“We’re moving at a freezing pace in government funding, but it’s really, really exciting,” Roberts McCarley said. “We’re almost at the two-year mark of even starting to talk about this… So thank you. I just want to compliment our staff on that. It was a herculean effort, literally, and so thank you very much for doing it, because it will really benefit the whole. One of the most exciting parts of this is that it kind of goes into the waters that end up in the Hillsborough River, which eventually ends up in the gulf. So it’s one of those really big issues that looks like a Lakeland project, but it’s so beyond us.

The city is also set to vote Monday on a proposal to rename part of North Sloan Avenue to “Bonnet Springs Boulevard.” The portion that would be renamed stretches from Lake Beulah to the entrance to the park. The portion of George Jenkins Boulevard at the entrance to the park has recently been repaved. The portion of Sloan Avenue north of the park entrance, which includes several residences, will not be renamed.

other business

The city is due to vote Monday on rezoning land in the Westgate neighborhood to allow for a three-story, 96-unit apartment complex.

The Lakeland City Commission meeting begins at 9 a.m. Monday at City Hall, 228 S Massachusetts Ave. Free parking is available at the Lakeland Electric garage near Iowa Street.

Kimberly C. Moore is an award-winning journalist from Lakeland. She can be reached at [email protected] or 863-272-9250.

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