The Horizon West Regional Park already is mapped out, and a groundbreaking will take place this summer.
“My passion is to make sure this park is a dedicated space for all the residents of District 1,” Orange County District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson said. “The commitment is there, the land is bought, we have all the pieces in place.”
The park will sit on 215.25 acres at Hamlin Groves Trail and Mann Road in Winter Garden. With its confirmed acreage, the Horizon West Regional Park will be bigger than the Boombah Sports Complex in Sanford, which only is 102 acres.
Even though originally the park was thought to be a designated sports complex, because of changes in surveys results Orange County passed to the community, the conceptual plan changed. The top five categories in these surveys ended up being biking and pedestrian trails, picnic pavilions, hiking paths, open spaces and sports.
“People want all of that, and that’s where you get the regional park, where you are able to bring all those parts together,” Wilson said. “The evolution of this area, and more residents added … what they are asking for is reflected in the survey, so that’s what is directing us in the allocation of these spaces.”
This park has been a couple of years in the making. As of today, there are about $10 million allocated to its development.
“It’s literally built into our tax structure new development impact fees,” Wilson said. “We have a (Parks and Recreation) impact fee component that has adjusted over time that we have just recently looked at again to make sure that we are getting what we need, knowing that these costs have changed.”
Part of the reason for the delay in the groundbreaking for construction is the rise of construction costs in the last two years. To compensate, Wilson said there is additional $5 million allocated toward funding for Phase 1 completion.
“The $5 million is toward additional amenities,” Wilson said. “So, anything that doesn’t go into what was already sort of allocated can be considered, or if the cost of what was already allocated changed, we can still bring those amenities.”
Funding for phases two through five is still to be determined, because the county will have to look into the General Fund, under the Capital Improvement Program projects for Parks and Recreation and determine how much can be allocated for those particular phases.
To have full transparency through this process, the County Commission goes through a procurement process when searching for construction partners.
“If we are hiring people to come in, we want to make sure they are so well-vetted and that they are the best option for our taxpayers’ investment,” Wilson said.
The park will have a connected trail system so people will be able to access the park through multiple biking and pedestrian trails as well as hiking paths. However, to alleviate traffic, there will be two access points — one being located by Hamlin Groves Trail.
“My dream is to see that it is part of what people want, so that they can ride their bikes from home into the park (and that it ) connects with the West Orange Trail,” Wilson said. “One of the things that we fight for every time we get a roadway project here is to make sure that we have a multi-use pass, bike lanes and the ability for those communities to access any services. The park will have parking spaces to accommodate hundreds of vehicles and also room for overflow vehicles.
“The park areas have not (yet) been designed to completion, so (the Parks and Recreation Department) does not want to give a number (of parking spaces),” Wilson said. “But there will definitely be built-in parking and then some room for overflow.”
The park will have a public library — which is still in the design phase under the Orange County Public Library System — and a potential YMCA, along with tennis and pickleball courts, baseball and softball fields, multi-purpose fields to accommodate sports such as soccer, an indoor aquatic facility, a dog parkland indoor and outdoor performance areas, and more.