Conceptual design work for a major set of improvements to the city’s premier public activity area, Lakefront Park, has been completed by the design firm S&ME and approved by the Ocoee City Commission after watching this presentation (PDF). Engineering design of specific improvements will begin in the spring. Improvements needed for the expanded Lakeshore Center, such as additional parking, will be early components of Phase 1. The overall intent is to provide separate event spaces tailored to specific uses while supporting larger events across multiple venues.
The total cost of the improvements depends on the specific elements selected for construction. Preliminary estimates exceed $7 million if every proposed element is constructed. The current general fund bond allocation is slightly less than $3 million, which is sufficient only for Phase 1 construction. This means that additional funds from a variety of sources will likely be needed to construct some elements of the project.
Three Major Project Phases
The project will be constructed in three phases as shown in the completed Park Construction Phasing plan (PDF) to allow an early start for that portion focused on the area around the Lakeshore Center and the Withers-Maguire House gardens. Phase 2 will include work on the block containing the New City Hall (bounded by Bluford, McKey, Oakland, and Lakewood). Phase 3 will address the lakeshore and the location of the existing City Hall, which will be demolished.
Phase 1 – Lakefront Park Additions
The major element of this project phase will cost approximately $2 million and involve the removal of existing driveways, walkways, and buildings; construction of new restrooms at the lake front, a wedding garden, and pedestrian pathways. It will also include shared parking and facilities supporting all venues, plus reconstruction of Oakland Avenue east of Bluford with angle parking. This section of Oakland will be able to support street events. A section of Oakland further to the east will be removed in order to provide a direct pedestrian connection between the upper and lower portions of the park. Phase 1a has been advertised for bids to construct the major new parking lot between Bluford Avenue and the Lakeshore Center and the Withers-Maguire House Event Garden. This work will be completed by October 31, 2018. Phase 1b will relocate the event stage power connection, reconstruct the existing south parking lot at the Lakeshore Center, and reconstruct Oakland Avenue east of Bluford Avenue to provide on-street parking. This phase will also remove a segment of Oakland Avenue at Lakewood Drive in order to provide a continuous pedestrian path between the new City Hall and the lakefront. This path will also support the new West Orange Trail Connector.
Phase 2 – City Hall Block Construction
Concurrent with the construction of Ocoee’s New City Hall, Phase 2 will add a splash pad and event plaza with restrooms and an event/performance pavilion. An iconic pavilion with tower will be constructed at the northeast corner of McKey and Bluford to serve as a trailhead for the West Orange Trail Connector and to indicate a transition to public space from the downtown core of the city. The total cost for Phase 2 is around $3 million.
Phase 3 – Shoreline Improvements
The shoreline of Starke Lake will get native littoral plantings to improve lake water quality and preserve the banks, plus landscaping, improved sidewalks and lighting, more pavilions, a boardwalk, and enhanced water-access facilities (piers and docks). Phase 3 includes demolition of the existing City Hall after staff relocates to the new building, and has a total cost estimate of $2 million. Although the Downtown Master Plan called for the boat ramps to be relocated, this element of the project is not currently funded and is not included in the current concept plan.