Local philanthropists and the city of Lakeland are set to announce a 160-acre, privately funded regional park and arts complex that will rise out of currently unused land west of downtown Lakeland.
“Proposed plans for the regional park include nature trails, an amphitheater, multiple playground areas, historically-themed areas, a miniature train, botanical gardens, bike paths, public art displays and much more. The park is slated to open by 2020,” Lakeland Communications Director Kevin Cook said in a news release issued this afternoon.
Organizers plan to make the park self-sufficient and not use city funds or maintenance, The Ledger reported.
Here is the text of an announcement Cook sent to reporters today:
WHO: Local philanthropists including Barnett Family, David Bunch and former Parks & Recreation Director Bill Tinsley
WHAT: Event to introduce 160+ Acre privately-funded regional park
WHERE: Property includes former CSX railyard bordered by Lake Bonnet, Kathleen Road, Memorial Boulevard and George Jenkins Boulevard. Press Conference attendees will enter park from North Webster Avenue (720 N. Webster Ave). There will way finding signage off George Jenkins Boulevard to assist participants with direction.
WHEN: Wednesday, February 8th at 11 a.m.
WHY: Two former industrial areas being mitigated to create regional urban park with numerous amenities that include: walking trails, multiple play areas, amphitheater, botanical gardens and public art displays.
LAKELAND — The media is invited to a press conference to introduce the vision and name of a 160+ acre regional park. This park will be situated within 200 acres of assembled property that includes the former CSX Railyard, the former Florida Tile industrial site and the adjoining historical parcels that once occupied this tract of land. Local visionaries including the Barnett Family (Barney, Carol, Wesley and Nicholas), longtime Lakeland commercial real estate broker David Bunch along with former City of Lakeland Parks & Recreation Director Bill Tinsley have quietly assembled the property to bring the vision of a regional urban park to life.
This property has over one mile of lake front, features oak hammocks with grandfather oaks, a small spring and a natural setting for an amphitheater. A great deal of work has already been done and the media is invited to hear the vision and tour this great fantastic piece of land. “Lakeland needs an incredible green space to improve its residents’ lives by bringing them closer to nature. This park will provide visitors with an educational experience and there will be multiple avenues for family enjoyment and entertainment,” said Barney Barnett. “The City of Lakeland has built an incredible park system but this new endeavor will be like nothing our residents and visitors have ever seen here, both in scale and possibility.”
The current plan is to restore the two industrial land areas and enable them to return to a productive use. The former Florida Tile site – which is not planned as part of the park – will be cleaned up, revitalized and reintroduced to the market place as a high density, quality mixed-use development comparable with the proposed park to support Lakeland’s downtown needs. Proceeds from the sale of this development will be put back into the regional park project. Proposed plans for the regional park include nature trails, an amphitheater, multiple playground areas, historically-themed areas, a miniature train, botanical gardens, bike paths, public art displays and much more. The park is slated to open by 2020.