At a rousing faith-based rally Tuesday night, four Lakeland city commissioners pledged to reach a goal of adding 500 housing units for families with homeless children by 2023. Mayor Bill Mutz and commissioners Stephanie Madden, Justin Troller and Phillip Walker drew cheers for their pledges from the approximately 1,400 participants at the 19th annual Nehemiah Action rally of the Polk Ecumenical Action Council for Empowerment, or PEACE, at Resurrection Catholic Church in Lakeland. More
Amid hints that increased funding for the arts may lie in the future, the Lakeland City Commission today unanimously approved a resolution increasing the number of organizations represented on the Mayor’s Council for the Arts. The resolution added three educational institutions – Harrison School for the Arts, Florida Southern College and Southeastern University – to the list of art and art-related organizations entitled to a seat on the council. More
Workers in Munn Park got two surprises as they removed the Confederate monument that’s being reconstructed in Veterans Park:
- It wasn’t held together nearly as well as they thought it would be. “They were surprised that with hurricanes (during the last 109 years), the monument made it through,” City Manager Tony Delgado said.
- A 34-year-old time capsule that was thought to be lost was found. It will be reburied in Munn Park, this time with a marker, so people will know where to find it when it’s due to be opened in 2085. More
By December, residents of Lakeland’s historic neighborhoods (map) are expected to have a visual guide to inform their decisions on exterior renovations. A $50k state grant is funding a revamp of the city’s historic district design code that will include more illustrations, such as acceptable replacement windows and doors.
Crews started dismantling the Confederate monument in Munn Park this morning as city officials, news crews and a sparse crowd gathered to watch. A crane lifted the statue of a Confederate soldier off its supporting plinth around 10 a.m.
After the jump, view photos and a video from the moments when the soldier was lifted away from the column that has supported it since 1910: More
Here’s our roundup of news from Monday’s City Commission meeting, starting with a short video of a wheelchair challenge conducted just before the meeting and also including action on city elections, a new CarMax, Watson Clinic rezoning, rail consternation and more.
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Mobility challenge: Six Lakeland city commissioners and an LPD captain got a first-hand look at the challenges facing people with mobility disabilities this afternoon. Participants said they learned it’s a more difficult physical ordeal than they imagined, and they praised the improvements made around town under the city’s accessibility coordinator. The seven participants traveled via wheelchairs to City Hall from the parking garage across Iowa Street. It required crossing the street, going up an incline and around a corner, up a ramp, through the main doors, backing into an elevator and up to the third floor. #lkld
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A plan to reduce the number of polling places for November’s city elections appears doomed. The proposal got no support from city commissioners today in informal discussions before they take a formal vote on Monday. More
What’s going to be built on the gravel parking lot between Lake Mirror and Massachusetts Avenue? Ledger reporter/editor Allison Guinn attempts to peer behind the misty gauze of persistent chatter about negotiations for the future of the city-owned “million-dollar parcel” that once housed a fire station. Nobody is going on the record, but the narrative that emerges centers on talks between the LEDC and city manager’s office for a high-rise office building anchored by Summit Holdings. The negotiations are also said to involve a parking garage on the property across Massachusetts Avenue that now holds the Terrace Hotel’s surface lot (map).
The meticulous process of moving a Confederate monument from Munn Park to Veterans Park is scheduled to start March 26, a Tuesday; the statue should be in place on its pedestal by April 4, with cleaning and pressure washing finished by April 17, city officials said.
ALSO IN THE MORNING PAPER:
BOYS, GIRLS CLUBS: Polk’s two and Boys and Girls Club organizations are have merged and fall under the leadership of new CEO Steve Giordano of Brandon.
STUCK TRUCK: The road under the rail overpass just north of Lake Beulah was blocked for more than two hours Friday morning by a truck that became lodged there. The concrete structure suffered no apparent damage.