Sasaki logo

A Boston company known for its work planning urban parks has been chosen as lead designer for Bonnet Springs Park, a privately funded recreation space planned for 180 acres west of downtown Lakeland. 

Sasaki, with offices in Waterford, Mass., and Shanghai, China, is known for projects such as the Chicago Riverwalk, Charleston Waterfront Park and Moore Square in Raleigh, N.C.

The selection was announced today by the board overseeing development of Bonnet Springs Park, an ambitious development announced in February for a now-vacant parcel west of Kathleen Road spanning from Memorial Boulevard to George Jenkins Boulevard.

Initial funding for land purchase came from members of the Barney and Carol Barnett family; community donations will be sought for buildout, expected to cost $50 million to $60 million.

Initial concept:


Here is the text of a news release issued today:

Sasaki is chosen to lead the Bonnet Springs Park Design

The Board of Directors of Bonnet Springs Park announces that Sasaki of Watertown, MA has been chosen as the lead designer for Lakeland’s Bonnet Springs Park. Local philanthropists are enabling the development of a new 180+ acre, urban park between West Memorial Boulevard and George Jenkins Boulevard on the east side of Lake Bonnet for the residents of Lakeland and for visitors from near and far.

The future Bonnet Springs Park will transform a former CSX railyard and adjoining parcels into a vibrant and inclusive public amenity.

“The land has historically been earmarked and used for industrial purposes, and this is our opportunity to reclaim it, reverse the environmental impact, and transform it into one of the great urban landscapes in the country,”  said David Bunch a local commercial realtor who, together with Bill Tinsley, former Director of Lakeland Parks and Recreation, has had a long-time vision for the property.

The decision to engage Sasaki follows an intensive process whereby representatives from Bonnet Springs Park issued a broad, national request for proposals and followed with interviews of selected park design teams responsible for some of the nation’s best public parks. Sasaki was unanimously selected by the committee.

“The credentials of this firm are world renowned and ultimately our belief in Sasaki’s inclusive approach to design was crucial.”, said Tinsley. “Sasaki will play a critical role in helping us transform this underutilized landscape into a world-class regional park.”

Sasaki – a sixty-five-year-old practice that has won over 650 design awards, including the American Society of Landscape Architects Firm Award – is responsible for some of the nation’s most successful and well-loved parks across the country. Legacy projects – like the Charleston (SC) Waterfront Park in South Carolina – and more recent work – like the Chicago Riverwalk or Raleigh’s Moore Square – all demonstrate the firm’s commitment to creating park spaces that enhance livability, ecological health and economic prosperity within the communities they serve.

As the park’s designer, Sasaki is tasked with creating a community-supported vision and an action plan for implementing the project in the coming years. Bonnet Springs Park will become an exceptional contribution to Lakeland’s open space system and a catalyst for economic development.

Wesley Barnett, a Bonnet Springs Park board director added, “Bonnet Springs Park will create a place where careful reinvestment in the land and shared natural resources will celebrate the community’s sense of identity and opportunity for generations of citizens.”

The Sasaki team, led by Sasaki principal Gina Ford, FASLA, will work closely with the community throughout the process as well as a team of locally-based engineers, environmental scientists, and related technical professionals. “We are thrilled to work with Bonnet Springs Park and to be a part of such a forward-thinking, community-oriented project.”, says Gina. “We have been moved by the community’s extensive commitment to sustaining its exceptionally high quality of life while ensuring access to it for everyone. The park will be a model for how to achieve these goals via open space investment and activation.” The first public meeting is planned for July 19th as this incredible design journey begins.

For more information please visit

SEND CORRECTIONS, questions, feedback or news tips:

latest news


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

Leave a comment

Your Thoughts On This? (Comments are moderated; first and last name are required.)