HORIZON WEST Program Development Supervisor John Connell said the nine acres in the middle of Iron Mountain Trail, Village Lake Road and Lake Spar were unique, with varying experiences in store for locals once it opens as Lakeside Village Neighborhood Park.
Connell revealed his plans for the park Feb. 29 at the third community meeting at Tibet-Butler Preserve about the project. Plans incorporated a survey of Orange County residents to determine what amenities to add to the park.
Based on the lake and several large oaks and pines in the park area, Connell’s design includes a dock and a quiet space amid the trees for reflection.
“Once you stand under these trees, it’s incredible,” Connell said. “I’ve been down there three times, and it’s a really nice spot.”
Near that area will be a gazebo, a picnic area and a tree buffer, Connell said. Other features include an open field with a sidewalk around it, myriad exercise stations, playground equipment, swings, trail extensions, numerous trees for shade and maybe a sand volleyball court.
Plans generally thrilled residents, whose primary concern was traffic, especially considering high speeds as cars emerge from the Reams Road roundabout onto streets such as Village Lake Road. Connell said a series of trees along that side of the park would be a focus, as well as placing the sidewalk on the downslope away from the street to evoke an increased sense of separation.
District 1 Orange County Commissioner S. Scott Boyd said many residents had contacted his office about that two-lane roundabout, where county staff have been observing traffic and considering a mid-block crossing, signage and other options.
This concern tied into another about parking availability, with as many as 54 spaces available around the park and the possibility of Orange County Public Schools allowing parking at certain times near the elementary school lot across Iron Mountain Trail.
Residents said an abundance of parks with tot lots in Orange County underserved teens and left little to nothing for them to do at parks. Connell suggested adding tasteful skateboard-friendly additions, such as special sidewalk innovations.
Connell said the total cost would be around $800,000 unless additional grading is necessary, all funded but developed in two phases based on budget timing. He proposed the open field, playground area and exercise stations for Phase I, with the rest saved for Phase II toward Lake Spar.
Resident Tamara Forrester said a dock would be ideal to have in Phase I, based on a scarcity of those in Horizon West. Boyd said there could be a consideration for what order crews construct aspects in before voting on this park occurs at a Board of County Commissioners meeting in several months. Connell said designers had not determined what material to make the dock from, but they had decided on an expression swing and an inclusive swing to better include teens and parents with youths using the swings.
Connell said if each remaining phase — with permitting as the next step — would occur smoothly, the park would be on track to open in spring 2017 as Phase I, with hopes to add Phase II soon thereafter.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].