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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 2 months ago

Horizon West regional park concept unveiled

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Residents got their first look at the concept for the 215-acre park at a community meeting Nov. 13.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

A new regional park in Horizon West is taking shape — and residents still have a chance to provide input on its amenities.

Horizon West residents got their first glimpse of a conceptual rendering for the area’s new regional park at a community meeting Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Windermere High School.

The park — which will be located north of New Independence Parkway and behind Bridgewater Middle School — consists of a passive recreation zone, a natural zone, an active zone and a lake zone.

The natural zone on the northeast side will be left mostly untouched and give residents a chance to enjoy the area’s natural beauty, while the passive recreation zone to the northwest — which has more hills — will include similar natural features along with amenities like dog parks.

An active area located at the center of the park would feature ball fields and a community center. A lake zone would give residents a chance to enjoy Lake Hartley through amenities like a fishing dock and a kayak launch area.

In an alternate concept rendering, the active zone is slightly adjusted, with the community center further west and the ball fields consolidated to the east behind Bridgewater Middle School.

The concept shown at the community meeting was put together using input gathered thus far from an online survey, along with an exercise from a community meeting May 1 where residents placed stickers representing certain amenities on a map of the property.

District 1 Orange County Commissioner Betsy VanderLey said that input from the residents is critical to shaping the park.

“This is a park that we want to make sure gets used very heavily, so when people give us their feedback on what they need, that’s how we’re driving what’s going to go into this park,” VanderLey said. 

That input came in rapidly after the first May 1 community meeting. A survey that was online through June 25 saw 1,920 respondents, more than 40,000 votes and more than 1,700 comments. Findings presented at the Nov. 13 meeting revealed the most requested amenities within the future park so far. At the top of the list sat bike/pedestrian trails (requested by 67% of participants), followed by picnic pavilions (58%), hiking paths (56%), a farmers market (54%) and a splash pad (51%).

Residents were asked at the Nov. 13 meeting to write down which amenities were most important to them — the findings from the online survey recorded almost 50 different kinds of amenities residents wanted to see. Even though the concept is taking shape, further input on what amenities will reside in each zone still is needed, VanderLey said.

“As we go forward and we get more input from the residents and we start to put some more details on paper and that refines, then that’s going to really help us decide what specifically goes where, how does this flow,” she said. “There’s a lot more that has to follow.”

A third community meeting will take place at some point during winter/spring of 2020.

Tim Freed is the Managing Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

See All Articles by Tim

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