ORLANDO, Fla. – Lake Eola is a significant part of Orlando’s history -- it’s a place to take a relaxing stroll around the water or simply enjoy some of its wildlife while having a picnic.
Now, the city of Orlando is working on the process to give it a facelift in a couple of years because they want to prepare it for the next 50 years.
“The master plan is to kind of set the focus for the next vision for the next 50 years,” John Perrone, division parks manager for Orlando said. “The park’s last master plan was in 1988 and the park was redeveloped at that time.”
The master plan is a conceptual design, which is costing the city $199,000 to develop, according to Perrone. The process not only determines the physical changes needed but will help guide the park’s place in the context of the larger downtown area, city and region.
“We will be able to make smaller decisions based on this master plan,” Perrone said. “This is gonna allow us to do that and be a little more efficient in what we do. We won’t have to rip something out to put something else in and then wish we had done it differently.”
Most of Lake Eola park’s amenities are more than three decades old and use of the park has increased significantly. The park hosts more than 100 events a year and has an attendance of more than 3,000,000 visitors annually.
“Thirty years ago, we didn’t have nearly as many users in the park,” Perrone said. Just having internet access in the park, we’ve talked about that. That’s gonna be, I know it’ll be important."
For Kristopher Schaefer, who’s lived near Lake Eola for 20 years, the area doesn’t need much of a change, but he would like to see more opportunities for artists and entertainers to showcase their talent.
“I’d like to see more events once we get to that place; more recognition for different people and cultures and celebrations,” Schaefer said, adding he walks around Lake Eola almost every day. “It’s a beautiful area. The fountain is gorgeous. It’s such a focal point. You have the swans, you just have the entertainment,” he said.
Vicky Griffin moved to the downtown Orlando area eight years ago. She said she’s happy with how the park currently looks and added the only change she’d like to see is in the water.
“I think it would require fish, snails, different varieties of birds, things that in natural conditions would keep the water cleaner,” Griffin said.
She said her days start with a visit to Lake Eola.
“A walk around the lake and end up at a coffee shop before I come back. Sometimes I’ll stay and read for a while,” Griffin said. “My favorite piece of art in the whole city is the fountain. Love the fountain.”
As for the future of the fountain? Perrone said fans shouldn’t worry.
“There may be recommendations as to the electronics of it or some upgrades to what happens during a fountain show, but that fountain isn’t going anywhere,” Perrone said.
The master plan process will be accomplished through a series of community and stakeholder engagement opportunities, including a citywide survey, as well as virtual community meetings.
The first community meeting will be held virtually on Oct. 22. For information about the Lake Eola Master Plan and to take the survey, click here.