Two simple stormwater retention ponds are being given new life in the city of Ocoee as work crews put the final touches on the Healthy West Orange Wellness Park at 1320 Bluford Ave.
Construction is 90% complete at the five-acre park, said Ginger Corless, the city’s deputy development services director and Community Redevelopment Agency administrator. Landscapers planted palm trees around the perimeter of the water last week and are adding native plants this week.
The city partnered with the Foundation for a Healthy West Orange to create the park, which includes a half-mile, 10-foot-wide walking path around a landscaped pond, gathering areas for health-related events and four wellness stations placed.
These shaded stations — two large and two small —have a total of 10 outdoor fitness pieces, which offer up to 60 different strength and training exercises. A QR code on each piece allows users to connect to a fitness app to keep track of statistics such as visits to the park and provides accountability for information such as number of steps and reps.
A boardwalk and seating areas provide tranquil places for relaxation.
“There’s a plaza for special events, such as health fairs, and (paths for) evening walks,” Corless said. “We can have different health programs. The police department across the street could use it for ceremonies. It gives us space for programs.”
The West Orange Healthcare District awarded the Ocoee CRA with a $2.25 million grant to leverage increment revenue to construct the new park. It cost about $2.9 million and took about a year to construct.
“The retention pond was there,” Corless said. “We took the old retention pond and changed some grades, and now we have a park.”
While working on a design for the project, Corless also wrote a grant on behalf of the city to the HWO foundation and explained how the trail will continue up to the south right-of-way of West Colonial Drive and pick up again on the north side, where it will end at Delaware Street and connect to the city’s existing 10-foot multipurpose path.
“It’s all in trying to connect parks to citizens and connecting healthy communities to increase public health,” Corless said. “It continues the city’s objective of walkability.”
It will benefit students as well, she said. School-age children living in The Oasis at Lake Bennet apartment complex are bused to schools because there are no safe paths to get there, so this will allow the students to safely walk to school.