WINTER HAVEN – City Manager Mike Herr and his staff gave the Winter Haven City Commission a capital improvement projects update Monday, June 24.
These are mostly large-scale projects that have already been funded through last year's tax increase.
“I have a series of really good news to report,” Herr said.
In March, while state legislators were in session, Herr, Mayor Brad Dantzler and other city staff traveled to Tallahassee to lobby state legislators to fund a few local projects.
This year, city staff decided to spend more time speaking with department staff instead of just lobbying legislators. Herr was able to talk with Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault about the corner of U.S. 17 and Cypress Gardens Boulevard — the busiest intersection in Polk County.
“The good news is (Thibault) kept his word and the design and right-of-way acquisition is moving forward,” Herr said.
Around $400,000 in FDOT funding and around $100,000 in city funding is being spent studying the U.S. 17 corridor north through the city limit, in part to improve the intersection at Havendale Boulevard.
“It's a major gateway into our city and it's time a corridor study be done,” Herr said.
Winter Haven residents driving at night may notice a recently-completed stretch of 7th Street, which runs parallel to U.S. 17 and west of Lake Howard. A trail on east side of the street is now well-lit, there is a new sidewalk on the west side of the road and trees will start being planted in the coming weeks.
“It's a completely different look for that corridor,” Assistant City Manager T. Michael Stavres said.
Those in attendance at the June 24 commission meeting also got to see a presentation put together by Polk Drones with an aerial view of some of the city investments.
Seven months since its groundbreaking, the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes Fieldhouse could be completed within five months. Contractors are nearly done with the gym that will be utilized by the Lakeland Magic and lighting is being installed. The white sand along U.S. 17 is where a new driveway will provide a second entrance. The cosmetics of the entrance will be one of the last improvements.
South Lake Silver Drive near MLK Park has improvements planned that are in the design process and will go out to bid soon.
There will be a trail on the lake side of the street, a sidewalk on the other side and an improvement to the intersection at Third Street.
Around the time Lake Silver is done, Avenue C near Grove Roots Brewing Company, from U.S. 17 to First Street North, will be made more pedestrian-friendly to encourage residents to walk down for a beer or shop downtown.
City staff, contractors and commissioners expect to break ground on the city’s third fire station, near Lake Ashton, by Thanksgiving. Recently, the commissioners authorized around $3 million for the project, which should be complete May 2021.
MLK Boulevard from First Street to 11th will be resurfaced by November and there is around $500,000 left to resurface other city streets.
Sidewalks around Winter Haven High, Denison Middle, Jewett Academy, Grace Lutheran and Brigham Academy will be built over the next two years.
Restrooms in Sertoma Park will be redone with work scheduled to start in July.
The progress on the long list of projects drew praise from Dantzler.
“You guys have been busy,” Dantzler said. “T. Michael has the gray hairs to prove it!”
Contact Charles A. Baker III at firstname.lastname@example.org.