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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Nearly $283,000 in Additional Funding Considered for Lake Conine Recreation Elements Project

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Nearly $283,000 in Additional Funding Considered for Lake Conine Recreation Elements Project

by James Coulter

The City of Winter Haven could allocate an additional $283,599 in funding to renovate the Lake Conine Nature Park area with recreational facilities if it approves a block grant.

During their meeting on Monday evening, Winter Haven City Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the first reading of an ordinance that would approve the allocation of a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) towards the Lake Conine Recreation Elements Project.

The CDBG program is administered nationwide by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development. Recently, they allocated CDBG funding towards design services for the Winter Haven Recreational and Cultural Center Project.

Currently, as stated in the staff memo for the ordinance, “$1.9 million is allocated towards the Lake Conine Recreation Elements Project. The existing budget includes City funds, a Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program Grant, and an initial CDBG Grant from Polk County.”

Furthermore, as the memo elucidates, the “requirement of the proposed CDBG Application is a City Commission Endorsement and public comment regarding the utilization of these CDBG Funds towards the Lake Conine Recreation Elements Project.”

A motion and a second were made to approve the first reading of the ordinance, and city commissioners voted unanimously with a vote of 3-0 for the approval. The second reading will be held at their next meeting on May 8.

The Lake Conine Recreation Elements Project, as the name entails, seeks to renovate the Lake Conine Nature Park area to accommodate recreational elements and facilities.

According to the city website, “construction on Phase 1 of the Lake Conine Wetland Restoration Project started in Spring 2020, this is an improvement project on a 34-acre property by transforming it into a restored wetland site.” Phase 1 was completed by spring 2021.

Currently, the planning stages of Phase 2 of the project is underway, which, according to the website, “will include the addition of passive recreational amenities…[that] include a paved trail system, playground, fishing pier, kayak launch, picnic facilities, restroom, parking area, and site amenities.”

Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel J. Birdsong Jr. inquired about the status of the project. He mentioned receiving a call expressing concern that the project would not be completed. He assumed that the status would be introduced to the city at the last meeting.

City Manager T. Michael Stavres replied that the project is currently undergoing a surcharge phase. He said the city staff is working on a press release concerning the surcharging, and that a public engagement opportunity will be hosted later this spring.

Mayor Bradley T. Dantzler raised a very important question concerning the difference between a boat dock and a pier. “Can you fish off a boating dock and tie a boat to your fishing pier?” he asked. To which City Manager Stavres answered, “Yes, you can.”

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