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Plans emerge for facelift of city park next to Camping World Stadium

Plans emerge for facelift of city park next to Camping World Stadium
Park improvements at Lake Lorna Doone Park include a paved walking trail around the lake and a splash park with shade structures. (City of Orlando)

After a two-year study and redesign, city officials and LIFT Orlando are ready to unveil the plan to transform a dilapidated city park just south of Camping World Stadium into a family-friendly neighborhood asset.

The Lake Lorna Doone Park master plan, developed by planning group Jacobs and funded by LIFT Orlando, calls for more than 40 improvements to the 12-acre park, including a fitness trail, splash park and the city's 10th community garden.

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City Spokeswoman Cassandra Lafser said the project budget and timeline are still being developed.

"Regarding the specifics of where funding will come from, including the City and Florida Citrus Sports, are still an ongoing conversation," she told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday. "We are working toward finalizing those details by early next year."

A key element of the redesign calls for the city to permanently close the portion of S. Rio Grande Avenue between Central Avenue and Church Street to improve the pedestrian experience, and create more space for parking.

This rendering shows some of the improvements planned for Phase 2, including a new pavillion, basketball courts and a futsal court. The entire 12-acre park would receive landscaping and lighting improvements, and public art would pay homage to park history.
This rendering shows some of the improvements planned for Phase 2, including a new pavillion, basketball courts and a futsal court. The entire 12-acre park would receive landscaping and lighting improvements, and public art would pay homage to park history. (City of Orlando)

City Real Estate Division Manager Laurie Botts filed the Master Plan application on Monday, seeking approval from the Municipal Planning Board for the park MP, to rezone the site from "Holding" to "Park," and to abandon the road.

The redesign process was initiated and funded by LIFT Orlando, a nonprofit founded in 2012 by local business leaders to revitalize the West Lakes neighborhood and fight the cycle of poverty in the community. The organization also took the lead in rebuilding the abandoned Washington Shores Village into a mixed-income housing development called The Villages at West Lake.

Lafser said the park improvements will complement the investment LIFT Orlando is already making in the neighborhood.

"This is right by the LIFT Orlando housing project that will bring more affordable housing to the area, and help to bring more families into the area that will benefit from the park and the improvements we are working to make there," she said.

Florida Citrus Sports, owner-operator of the stadium, has pledged $1 million toward the park improvements. But other public and private funding sources have yet to be identified, Lafser said.

The master plan for Lake Lorna Doone Park includes of list of more than 40 new features, including a new accessible playground, a splash park, a community garden and a pair of spray fountains. Sports facilities will be reconfigured and more parking will be added.
The master plan for Lake Lorna Doone Park includes of list of more than 40 new features, including a new accessible playground, a splash park, a community garden and a pair of spray fountains. Sports facilities will be reconfigured and more parking will be added. (City of Orlando)

She said the city and its business partners worked closely with neighborhood residents to develop a plan that complements the area and improves its economic vitality.

"This plan is the result of many workshops and meetings with this collaboration," she said.

The plan is a direct response to neighborhood concerns, identified by the Polis Institute in 2014, about park safety.

"The perception that the park is unsafe is keeping many nearby residents from utilizing the park," Polis wrote in its 2014 action plan. "The reality is that the current users of the park tend to be very welcoming but may be participating in activities that are not agreeable to families."

The MP divides the park improvements into two phases with an emphases on the western side of the park in Phase 1. The walking loop encircling the lake measures slightly more than half mile, and would have exercise stations scattered throughout, as well as a designated history walk.

Also planned for Phase 1: a barrier-free playground, a fishing pier and gazebo on the north shore of the lake, new restrooms, new lighting and an overhaul of the landscaping plan.

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Phase 2 would include a large plaza with seating and light sculptures facing the stadium's north endzone, and a separate curved plaza extending into the lake on the west side, near the splash park.

Many of the sports facility improvements and new pavilion on the east side are also planned for Phase 2. Those include improvements to the existing basketball courts and addition of a futsal court. Lighted spray fountains in the main lake and in a smaller pond are also programmed in the later phase.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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