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Round Lake Park set to see significant improvements

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Round Lake Park is set to receive a significant facelift, updating existing structures and adding new features for park goers but the total project cost and timeline are still up in the air.

A $51,000 Florida Communities Trust grant, with an additional $50,000 required match from the city of Oviedo totaling $101,000, and other funds, will be used for the updates to the approximately 34-acre park, located at 891 E. Broadway St. The grant was secured in 2017.

The park already has multiple lighted tennis and pickleball courts, lighted and covered basketball courts, outdoor racquetball courts, two playgrounds, a boardwalk, a pier and picnic shelters. 

Improvements through the FCT grant and management plan include connecting the existing boardwalk to a sidewalk that leads to Reed Avenue, a fishing pier, a picnic shelter and tables, sidewalk connections, an additional accessible parking space, trees and an interpretive kiosk where the city can add signage, a bulletin board, brochures and other marketing material. 

Additionally, but not included in the grant money, the northern playground, shade sails and safety material will undergo a full replacement, including adding artificial turf. Materials for the playground have been ordered, but manufacturing and installation may take six to eight months, Oviedo Recreation and Parks Director Paul Belden said.

Jen Longo, who has five children ranging in ages from 9 to 22, has been a regular at Round Lake Park for eight years, and is looking forward to the eventual upgrades.

“The parking and [improvements] definitely need to happen,” she said. “I think it’ll be more inviting. [So many] people don’t know about this park.”

While there is no official timeline for the work to be done yet due to budget constraints, Belden said he hopes to have more clarity by the start of the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

“We have partial funding left from [the grant],” Belden said. “Once we can solidify our final budget, that would give us the opportunity to determine what else, if we’re going to have to phase this out into one or two projects, or could we do it all in one shot.”

Belden said city staff is also working to determine material and labor costs. There is about $61,000 remaining in available funds, after using a portion for designs and permitting, which are now in place. Additional funds will need to be secured through other avenues, Belden said. 

“The initial proposals came in higher than what’s remaining [in the grant],” Belden said. “So we had no choice but to wait until there’s additional funding. And I’m optimistic that recreation impact fees would be a good utilization of the expansion of that park to help fund those remaining elements.”

Impact fees are “one-time fee[s] imposed by a local government on new development to pay for the costs of providing public services and infrastructure to the new development,” according to the Seminole County website.

As part of the FCT grant, the park will need to offer education classes — potentially in the form of wildlife and plant education, local school trips and Boy Scout groups — and to maintain exotic plant material in the park, Belden said. 

“We’re working with a consultant to potentially help us navigate through that process for taking care of the native plants,” he said.

Round Lake Park has benefitted from a few upgrades over the past five years, including adding three additional tennis courts, which are also utilized for pickleball, adding a shade structure over the basketball courts and upgrading the LED lighting through an energy grant. However, the scope of the new upgrades are larger than any that have been done over at least the last half-decade.

Once a final budget has been determined, Belden said he would request from City Council the amount needed minus what is remaining in the grant, and have those funds transferred to the park’s fund balance.

The decision for what upgrades to make were done by the parks department with a focus on the city’s master plan. A major deciding factor was the city’s desire to have more connectivity, Belden said.

“Being able to connect park to park kind of led to part of the decision,” he said. “Then we had the opportunity to extend the boardwalk and add the fishing pier to connect to the eastern side of the park when the land became available.”

The boardwalk connection to Reed Avenue would allow for more direct access between Round Lake Park and the Oviedo Sports Complex.

In addition to the new improvements, a new African-American cultural center, which is in the pre-design phase, is already in the process of being added to the park through an additional grant secured in December.

Other park projects in the works

There are other park improvements in process around Oviedo, as well: a new playground and shade structure at Riverside Park, a new playground and swings at the Oviedo Sports Complex, new umbrellas at the Oviedo Aquatic Center splash zone pool deck and a new swing set for Boston Hill Park.

Riverside Park, which sustained severe damage during Hurricane Ian, has received an initial assessment report of the damage and repairs needed.

“[Beginning repairs at Riverside Park] really depends on when we can start everything up,” Belden said. “And it’s going to go pretty swiftly once we start the process, but we’ve got to follow a strict timeline, a chronological timeline to do things in a certain direction and order.”

For Round Lake Park regulars like Longo, the updates are seen as a positive for the community.

“I invited a friend [who] was wanting to do a birthday party, and I said, ‘You need to go to Round Lake Park,’” Longo said. “She’s like, ‘Where is that?’ And so she came here and she’s like, ‘Oh my God, it was the best thing ever.’ So I think adding to it would be beneficial.

“It’s the hidden gem of Oviedo.”


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