When the new year rolls around, people resolve to change their lives, to become better, to clear the clutter from their lives and focus on building a positive future.
Area cities are no different. Each has a plan for 2017, from un-sexy but important public works projects to exciting makeovers that city leaders hope will bring additional life and success to their towns.
Here is a look at what some area towns have on tap for 2017:
Leesburg’s goal for 2017 is to enhance the quality of life in a way that will attract new businesses, visitors and residents.
City spokesman Derek Hudson said the upcoming projects encompass everything from enhancements to infrastructure, more recreational opportunities for families and improvements that will increase the quality of life in the area.
Projects underway include:
- The addition of a gateway that will lead people to Leesburg’s downtown district. Construction will begin construction in June or July. The $500,000 project, funded partially by an FDOT grant, includes landscaping, gateway signage and a fountain at the intersection of U.S. Highway 441 and U.S. Highway 27 and a lighted archway at downtown’s entrance on Main Street.
- The construction of the city’s first splash park is set to break ground at Venetian Gardens this month. The $426,000 splash park will tentatively open around mid-March or the beginning of April and will provide interactive water play for children in the area.
- A re-do of the Rogers Park pavilion is set to begin this year. The $200,000 project, in tandem with Splash Park and Kids Korner playground, will include new restroom facilities and some beautification efforts to the venue, which is rented out for parties, barbecues and other get-togethers. The city council was set to approve final plans for the pavilion this week.
In 2017, the city will continue efforts to curb economic blight in the Carver Heights area, to include the design for a new $1.5 million community resource center. When completed, the center will provide outreach and educational programs, training facilities, a computer lab and meeting space for residents.
City Manager John Drury said Tavares will continue efforts to improve the overall quality of life for its citizens as well as its brand as America’s Seaplane City.
“We will be focusing on fiscally conservative policies and maximizing grants wherever possible to achieve these goals,” Drury said.
Drury said will look at connecting the cities of Mount Dora and Eustis with Tavares via alternative modes of transportation like bicycle and walking trails.
Some of the other projects on the books for 2017 in Tavares include:
- Installation of a new 441 America’s Seaplane City gateway sign and landscaping. The cost of the project is $82,000. The city Planning Department has also formed a Horizon Team to begin the master planning for a west Main Street gateway.
- A $1.5 million project is under way for new boat ramps on the west side of Wooton Park. The project includes the boat ramps, boat trailer parking, green space stabilization, volleyball courts, Tavlee Trail, restrooms and railroad crossing signalization/arms.
- The city will continue in the design phases for projects like a new $10.4 million public safety facility that will be fully funded through infrastructure sales tax revenues, the $4.3 million Lake Francis utility line replacement project aimed at replacing failing water and sewer lines and repaving streets affected by the work and for a State Road 19 widening project. The project, currently undergoing the FDOT planning process, will see widening from Woodlea Road to the Howey Bridge. The multi-million dollar project is being funded by the state.
- In February or March, the Public Works staff will present plans to the City Council for $275,000 worth of repaving they feel is needed in town. A master plan identifying the condition of every street in Tavares has been completed and will be included in the presentation. Paving is set to begin later this year.
- In 2017, the state bridge between Tavares and Howey-In-The Hills is scheduled to be removed and replaced by two bridges. Construction for the first replacement bridge is scheduled for 2017.
City Manager Scott Blankenship said 2017 is already shaping up to be a good year for Umatilla.
“We have a lot going on right now, and we’re all about infrastructure. It’s water, it’s sewer and it’s amenities,” Blankenship said.
Blankenship said one of the biggest projects on the books this year is a water plant upgrade that will include new pumps, storage tanks and water line replacements. He said work will begin soon to remove the old lines and replace them with new lines throughout the city. The $500,000 project to the water lift station is being fully funded by the St. John’s Water Management District.
Other projects slated for 2017 include:
- $150,000 worth of rehabilitation upgrades to Larkin Park, Cadwell Park and to the city’s community pool, funded by three $50,000 state grants awarded to Umatilla in December. Larkin Park upgrades and enhancements will include a makeover of the baseball field, expanding playground equipment and remodeling of the restroom facilities. Cadwell Park enhancements will include construction of a new roof on the pavilion and the installation of a covered stage to support events and rentals. Work to the community pool will include cleaning, upgrading electrical outlets and the placement of additional sidewalks.
- The construction of three additional hangars at Umatilla Municipal Airport are being funded by $500,000 worth of grant money from FAA and FDOT. Blankenship said hangar rentals will provide additional revenue to the city to support operation of the airport.
City Manager Robin Hayes said Mount Dora will add infrastructure to support future growth anticipated as a result of the Wekiva Parkway interchange and the Wolf Branch Innovation District.
Hayes said a series of projects are being integrated to meet the goal and must be completed together to ensure utility lines are not compromised.
“A lot of this will be finished this year,” Hayes said.
The group of projects Hayes spoke of include:
- Britt Road Utility Extension: Plans are 60 percent complete and a land acquisition specialist has begun talking with property owners.
- State Road 46: Wekiva 3A & 3B utility plans are 90 percent complete. This week, staff will be requesting council approval to add a water line from the waste water treatment plant on Niles Road to SR 46 to improve redundancy. Staff plans to bid this project out by the end of this month with construction to begin in March or April, 2017.
- Wolf Branch Loop: This project goes from Round Lake north of SR 46 to one quarter mile east of Round Lake Road. The project will begin when the SR 46 projects are complete.
- Innovation Loop: This project is Round Lake south of SR 46 to the Orange County line. This project will not begin until the SR 46 Projects are complete, and the city has more information on the development plans for the Innovation District.
- U.S. Highway 441: This project consists of utility relocations from SR 44 to Lincoln Avenue. The City has authorized Mittauer to complete a preliminary study of the Wolf Branch / Limit Intersection to determine the most cost effective way to move utilities in this intersection. This work is approximately 50 percent complete. Once completed, the city will negotiate a new scope of services to complete the overall project design.
- County Road 44B: This project design is complete awaiting the FDOT schedule for the road improvements. The City of Mount Dora plans to complete the Britt Road Extension Project prior to initiating this project for construction.
Article Published in Daily Commercial on 17th January 2017