Normally, I would dismiss an announcement that Bonnet Springs Park — the mammoth 168-acre tract concerning West Memorial Boulevard and George Jenkins Boulevard that has been less than advancement for the past 6 several years — is scheduled to open.
Not this time.
Floor was broken for the park in March 2020, whilst arranging started decades in advance of that. Due to the fact that time, the result of an opening-day announcement has generally been the same: Announce the opening for the coming spring. Drive the day back again as wintertime finishes to the beginning of summer season. Summertime nears, the opening turns to autumn. Autumn’s day lapses into winter. Repeat.
Driving by on Kathleen Highway, the progress sometimes seemed of the two-actions-forward-just one-step-again variety. Dust piled up one particular day would wash absent the future. A metal body would spring up overnight, then stand barren for months.
But this time, there is a date, and it is a firm date: Oct 22 — the fourth Saturday.
Not only is there a agency date, but there are properties, a significant treehouse, trails, benches, lights and h2o attributes. With 119 days remaining, what is actually left to be carried out would seem doable.
In a online video about the coming opening, Josh Henderson, CEO for the park, begins with “It truly is about time,” referencing the line that was recurring at the begin of the online video by many Lakelanders. It has, without a doubt, been a long time coming.
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Henderson, who has spent additional than 20 a long time in the parks administration arena, was hired immediately after the groundbreaking and, according to a Bonnet Springs Park press launch at the time, was to guide “the cost to the Grand Opening at Bonnet Springs Park in 2021.”
Oops. You can find that optimistic opening-date enterprise popping up all over again.
But it is here — almost — along with a new Explorations V Kid’s Museum (which will come to be Florida Children’s Museum), meeting and dining facilities, a few playground spots, a butterfly habitat and a nearly a few-mile strolling route.
Land for the park was a previous railroad lawn, and a primary impact for Lakeland’s early growth. When the most significant railyard in Florida, it was unneeded and shut in the 1980s.
All of the advancement has been finished via personal funding. Park officials have reported that the outpouring of community help exceeded expectations and has allowed several jobs to be extra.
And as a outcome, every thing has possibly a household name or small business identify attached to it. There are much more than two dozen factors that are named 1 way or the other.
All of this can be located on the park’s web page: www.bonnetspringspark.com. There are maps of the park a collection of monthly newsletters about its development video tours of what is there and what is to appear.
The web site has areas to donate (which are tax deductible), and an rationalization of how to volunteer. There’s a area to buy a 4-by-eight inch inscribed brick for $200. The memorial benches are currently offered out.
The site is a glimpse into the long run — a future that is now just around 100 times absent. This time, I severely doubt they’re going to force again the Oct. 22 day, quick of a hurricane. This time, they will make deadline. You can expect to want to see it.
Mark your calendar.
Lonnie Brown can be achieved at [email protected].