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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 5 days ago

Summerlake park plans taking shape

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Orange County officials held a community meeting Oct. 29 to get additional feedback for the park’s design.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

Summerlake residents are one step closer to getting their neighborhood park.

Orange County representatives held the second community meeting for the Summerlake neighborhood park project. Located at the intersection of Porter Road and Wood Sage Drive, the site of the 5-acre park is next to a property in which a new elementary school will be built, and both are expected to open in 2021.

“We’re looking at … making the whole community a lot better with the community park,” said Grant Wenrick, a landscape planner with the Orange County Parks and Recreation division. “We did the survey from the first meeting over the last couple of months … (and) a lot of people responded about shade. (They) want a shaded playground (and) shade trees, and that was something that was brought up (by many).”

Wenrick discussed the survey results from neighborhood residents about what they want to see incorporated in the park, which has $1.2 million set aside to pay for it. The county received 489 responses to the survey, and the top three amenities requested for the park are a playground for children ages 5 to 12, a paved walking path and a picnic pavilion. A fitness area was ranked fourth and a tot lot for children ages 2 to 5 came in fifth. 

Those five features are included in the park plans, along with a multi-purpose field, which was ranked sixth. Other features ranked among the top 10 most requested amenities were a community garden, a dog park, a sand volleyball court and a mini skate park. The park also will have a water fountain, a bike rack, garbage and recycling receptacles and benches and picnic tables throughout. Parks and Recreation Manager Matt Suedmeyer addressed the maintenance of the park.

“We get a lot of questions … (and) concerns about maintenance,” Suedmeyer said. “We mow our parks every week during the growing season, and then every other week during the winter time — November, December, January and February (maintenance) is every other week. Parks staff … will be taking care of this park. … Two to three times a week our parks staff comes out to empty garbage cans (and) to pick up trash.”

Although the plans were well-received, residents suggested  wider sidewalks, greater separation between the playground and fitness area, adding dog waste receptacles and having either a larger picnic pavilion or space within the park to build an additional pavilion. 

The park will not have bathrooms on site, will not be staffed and will be open from sunrise to sunset. Additionally, parking will be limited to on-street parking.

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and the West Orange Observer. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a double major in Journalism and Political Science. Contact Eric at...

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