February 23, 2017

A meeting of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners was advertised for a special Parks and Trails session on Thursday, February 23, 2017, at 6:00 p.m., in the Leesburg Community Building’s East Room, Leesburg, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were:  Timothy I. Sullivan.  Others present were:  Bobby Bonilla, Parks and Trails Division Manager and Angela Harrold, Deputy Clerk.

Commr. Sullivan introduced himself and thanked the residents for attending the Parks and Recreational Trails Master Plan Update. He stated that parks and trails were an important part of the quality of life and uniqueness of Lake County.  He noted that there was staff in attendance as well as Ms. Ginger Corliss of Tindale Oliver and Associates, who would be presenting the update on the master plan. He encouraged everyone to take advantage of the parks and trails located throughout the county, specifically noting P.E.A.R. Park. He explained that the meeting was to gain public input on the master plan update and asked the participants to express their ideas.

Ms. Ginger Corliss, representing Tindale Oliver and Associates explained that she had been involved in parks and recreational planning for over 30 years in the State of Florida. She noted that the purpose was to update the Lake County Parks and Recreation Master Plan that was created in 2005 as well as the Trails Master Plan created in 2008. She stated that part of the update was to gain public input. She reviewed the current Lake County Parks and Recreation Master Plan and noted that the parks and the trails master plans work together. She outlined the schedule for the master plan and listed all of the County’s passive and recreational parks. She went over current and upcoming park projects.

Ms. Corliss asked each table to work as a group for thirty minutes to gather a list of recommendations for updates and new ideas that the residents would like to see implemented at the County-owned parks and trails.

Some of the ideas recommended by the residents included more interconnectivity with the trails, trails that run through town center areas, trails that contain bike shops, retail shops or concessions along certain parts, additional funding sources for the parks, increased funding for conservation land management, capital improvement funding for the north side of Lake May, completion of the East Lake Park master plan, catch and release fishing options in the conservation areas, developing a relationship between the County and the Sara Maude Mason Nature Preserve located in Howey-in-the-Hills, connecting rail head trails and bike trails in the Sugar Loaf Mountain area, trails that are more local to the municipalities, more active playpark areas to support the extensive development, more coordination between municipalities and the county, a more centralized plan with momentum and follow through, utilizing the existing rail trails more, and continued work to handle invasive species on the trails and in the parks.

Ms. Corliss noted that 12 years prior the county contained no regional parks and it was the mission of the Board and staff to create the master plan and to acquire land for parks, such as North Lake Park. She stated that unfortunately the recession came and things paused; however, the plan was still in process and the goals still being worked toward.  She pointed out there were currently 68 miles of trails located within the county that were not available 10 years prior. She commented that trends and priorities change and it was important to update the plan now to implement those using direction from the community. She stated that what she learned from the input was that more interlocal activity was needed for management and implementation of these parks. She encouraged the residents to complete the online parks survey on the Lake County website at www.surveymonkey.com/r/LakeCountyCommSurvey and to tell their neighbors about the next meeting taking place in Minneola on Thursday, March 2, 2017, at Minneola City Hall to increase attendance and public input.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 8:13 p.m.