Winter Park plans for a new mini-park

New trail head

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  • | 5:31 a.m. November 19, 2015
Photo by: Tim Freed - The park could be part of a municipal walking path system.
Photo by: Tim Freed - The park could be part of a municipal walking path system.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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A vacant lot in Winter Park long left empty might become the city’s newest park.

The city is currently exploring what to do with its Blake Yard property, an empty lot located at 301 W. Comstock Ave., which has been used to park city utility vehicles in recent years. The city has considered either selling the property, using it for public parking or turning into a park.

The latter option may be taking root, as Winter Park resident and landscape architect Forest Michael has given a presentation to multiple city boards regarding a project that would convert the lot into a park. That park would feature a small garden and could serve as a new trailhead for a new trail that will run from Fairbanks Avenue, past the Farmers Market and end at New England Avenue.

That trail, set to start construction in the first quarter of next year, will be approximately 8 feet wide and run along the west side of the SunRail train tracks.

The new park and trailhead would provide a new place for local neighborhoods to gather and socialize, Michael said.

“We’re proposing a new garden, park and trail for the Hannibal Square neighborhood and Winter Park,” Michael said. “This is truly a community access area…. We see it as a multicultural mix, which is kind of rare in Winter Park.”

The Winter Park Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Board unanimously voted in support of the project during their meeting last Tuesday in hopes that the park could be used as a trailhead in the future.

The potential park’s location could even lead to future walking paths highlighting the city’s history, said Pedestrian Board Member Jill Hamilton Buss.

“The visitor’s center is right there and it’s catty-corner from the Chamber and the Farmers Market, which is in close proximity to our downtown,” she said. “You could have a hard walking top to Martin Luther King Park and some historic black churches”

“There’s some ripe opportunities if we have [the Blake Yard] as a designated park.”

The same project, called Comstock Garden, was also supported by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board during their Oct. 14 meeting, agreeing that the property should either be a park or a trail head. Board members also agreed that if the property is sold, the money should go toward the city’s parks acquisition fund.

City Spokesperson Clarissa Howard said the City Commission still needs to make a final decision on the Blake Yard property, and plans to do so at a future meeting date.


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