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Lake Wales
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Lake Wales Envisioned Plan Officially Adopted by City Commissioners


by James Coulter

Imagine a Lake Wales where you can walk or bike where you need to go instead of driving a car. Where the sidewalks are wider, the public spaces are greener, and the houses allow you to become closer to your neighbors. And where sprawling nature trails allow you to appreciate the natural beauty of the surrounding wilderness.

All these things and more are on the horizon for Lake Wales’s future now that the city has officially adopted the bold Lake Wales Envisioned Plan. At their regular city meeting on Tuesday evening, Lake Wales City Commissioners moved to adopt the plan with a unanimous vote of 5-0.

Lake Wales Envisioned, as its website states, was designed to “guide growth and conservation throughout the city and its surrounding utility service area for decades to come.” Though it is not a legally binding contract, the plan will serve as a guide for future city development with an emphasis on growing the economy, improving housing and infrastructure, and conserving the local environment.

Lake Wales Envisioned was created through a collaboration of a local task force with the planning firm Dover, Kohl & Partners, as commissioned by the city commission in December 2022. Earlier this year, the city hosted Charlette Week, where public input and feedback for the plan was collected by residents.

The plan includes four main objectives: economy, green, neighborhood, and mobility. As such, the plan focuses on stimulating economic growth and development, conserving the local environment, creating more tight-knit neighborhoods, and providing a more walkable city suitable for pedestrians and cyclists, thus placing people over cars.

During public comments, residents unanimously and wholeheartedly voiced their approval of the plan and encouraged the city commissioners to adopt it. When the city commissioners finally passed their ordinance with a unanimous vote, thunderous applause from the audience filled the chamber.

One resident, Brandon Alverado, not only urged the city commissioners to approve the resolution adopting Lake Wales Envisioned, but to follow through with the plan and implement its ideas to create a better city.

Another resident, Rusty Ingley called it “a bold vision plan for the future.” Juanita Sanchez urged commissioners to adopt the plan and “have the courage to stick with it.” And Charlene Bennett called the plan a “noble and well-intentioned document.”

Trisha Martin spoke on behalf of Bok Tower Gardens President David Price to express support for the plan. She claimed the plan helped encapsulate the vision of Edward Bok by promoting growth and development while preserving the city’s natural beauty.

“We need such awakening of the senses for the beauty in every municipality,” she said. “We want more growth, more beautiful streets, squares, and roads…Your adoption will be a legacy to benefit future generations.”

City Commissioner Robin Gibson approved the plan, claiming it helped promote the city’s unique qualities, which is where the Bok ethic and Olmstead heritage converge. That mission was stated clearly on the wall of the chamber, which included the words of Edward Bok: “Make the world more beautiful with you having been here.”

“My concern was that we were missing an opportunity because I think we have an advantage as a unique community,” he said. “Back then, almost 100 years ago, Bok was talking about growth which is what we are discussing here today. He did not run away from it. Growth need not be harmful. It can make things better and more beautiful, and that should be our standard…[Lake Wales Envisioned] effectively stands for what makes Lake Wales unique and distinctive.”

To learn more about Lake Wales Envisioned, visit its website at: https://lakewalesenvisioned.com/

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Staff Reporter

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