Ocoee leaders plan wellness park

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  • | 10:14 a.m. May 7, 2015
Ocoee leaders plan wellness park
Ocoee leaders plan wellness park
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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OCOEE — As the West Orange community focuses on healthy living, the city of Ocoee, which calls itself “The Center of Good Living,” will have opportunities to build on that theme as development takes off in its business corridors.

One plan that could get rolling by the end of this year is the Ocoee Wellness Park, which Assistant City Manager Craig Shadrix said would fit right in with that motto.

“We’re going to need funding to build it, but that’s actually a really good project,” he said. “We will be seeking funding for it this year. The park is very cool. There’s a spirit in West Orange County now of creating a health and wellness kind of lifestyle. That wellness park really fits into that.”

This park and other similar projects of the Community Redevelopment Agency will draw some inspiration from Ocoee’s cooperation with the city of Winter Garden and its embrace of health and wellness projects.

“I think you’re going to start seeing more and more of those types of projects popping up with some of our plans: future plans, trails and pocket gardens and things like that that should be very good,” he said.

The park will be near the headquarters of the Ocoee Police Department at the corner of Bluford Avenue and Old Winter Garden Road, Shadrix said, centered on a large retention pond that was part of the recent DOT expansion of State Road 50 at the next four-way intersection to the north.

“In this big grassy area, right there, you’ll see it on your left if you’re heading south from S.R. 50 on Bluford,” Shadrix said. “We decided to take what would ordinarily be a big retention pond with a fence around it and convert it into a park. It’ll still store retention runoff from S.R. 50, but it’s going to look like a pretty lake that was supposed to be a park, instead of just a retention pond.”

In somewhat of a revolutionary concept for the park off Ocoee Commerce Parkway, there will be exercise equipment at workout stations around the pond, so that joggers and walkers can work out along their outdoor trek, Shadrix said.

“I didn’t realize this until we had hired a designer to come in, because I always think if you can turn a stormwater pond into a park, do it, because it creates something that gives more back,” he said. “Like we have a really nice little stormwater park on Palm Drive. We actually have a city park over there that’s a regional stormwater facility. But that’s a pretty popular thing now. Basically, you’ll be able to do a full workout circuit around the pond. There will be benches and stuff like that, too.”

One of the hardest parts of planning such a project is getting a design, but the city has the entire engineering design now, so the focus has moved to funding, Shadrix said.

“We (have) to come up with the money in the budget to build it now,” he said. “It’s going to be $1 million to $1.2 million to build it. We’ll probably be seeking some state grant funds, and we’ll probably try to see if we can get some grant dollars from the West Orange Healthcare District. That’s a tricky one in how you word it and all that good stuff. I think it’s got a good chance of getting funded over the next year, and it’ll be great. I mean, I’ll go use it. It’s an attractive little park.”

As for when design implementation will occur, Shadrix said that would not be known until the end of the funding process, which could include sources other than grants and should take six months.

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected]


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