It seems everyone agrees that Florida Avenue is a mess through Dixieland and into downtown. But there’s little agreement on which problems to focus on — narrow lanes, safety, walkability, business access, congestion — or how to proceed.

Everybody will have their chance to give their ideas Saturday and next week as planners craft solutions:

  • A public design workshop Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church on Lake Morton will let people hear an overview, share their priorities and work together to suggest fixes.
  • People can visit a design studio and chat with the project team from 9 a.m. t0 9 p.m. Sunday through the following Friday, May 20. The studio at Waller Center, 1065 S. Florida Ave., Suite 2, closes at 4 p.m. on May 20.
  • A work-in-progress report will be presented at 6 p.m. on May 20 at the Polk Museum of Art‘s Kent Harrison Theater.

The corridor area under study is from Ariana Street on the south to Pine Street.


Here’s what to expect if you attend Saturday’s meeting, according to Marybeth Soderstrom, community engagement manager with the Central Florida Regional Planning Council, one of the sponsoring organizations:

  • An opening presentation will provide an overview of opportunities and concerns initially identified on the corridor.
  • Participants will gather in groups around tables to record their ideas and priorities for the corridor.
  • Activities will continue through a working lunch.
  • A member from the community will present their table’s plan to the workshop, providing key direction for the plan.

“Kids view the community from a unique perspective and are welcomed participants,” Soderstrom adds.

The project’s goals are to improve mobility, safety, quality of life and economic vitality, according to a poster on the project website.

The meeting’s primary sponsors are Florida Department of Transportation and the city of Lakeland.

Organizations coordinating the activities include the city of Lakeland, Polk County Transportation Planning Organization, Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency, and the Lake Morton and Dixieland Neighborhood Associations.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com 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.

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