Kissimmee Lakefront Park Revitalization Project Update

Filed under: Kissimmee Event,Vacation Tips |

Visitors to Downtown Kissimmee lakefront can’t help but have noticed the work that has been going on over the last 20 months to revitalize the lakefront area around Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho.)

Some $25 million has or is being spent on the project and the original improvement plans called for an enhancing of the green space leading up to Lake Tohopekaliga. Additionally, the 25-acre park had to preserve the tree canopy and boast more than a mile of paved trails for skating, biking and walking. It also had to have the ability to launch boats or kayaks, house a concession stand or restaurant, contain three playgrounds as well as space to hold various community events.

The City Commission was joined by nearly 300 people for the Ground Breaking Ceremony on Friday, February 20, 2012 which took place along the lakefront. The construction was then designed to  take place in stages beginning with the removal of old trees and buildings. Phase I & II also involved transforming Lakeshore Boulevard into a pedestrian walkway, while Johnson Street was realigned to accommodate vehicular traffic.

The first two stages of Kissimmee’s Lakefront Park opened in April 2013 with improved fishing docks, 275,000 square feet of concrete and bricked walkways, a lawn area big enough for large community events and another small and intimate enough to hold weddings. Stormwater treatment boxes were installed to clean the runoff that flows into Lake Tohopekaliga and electric charge stations were installed for electric cars in keeping with the environmental policy.

Phase III is now well underway and the first of the the scheduled renovations has now opened with the new 11 boat slip marina and bait and tackle building now open for business. Lake Toho’s 18,800 acre lake is known as one of the best lakes in Florida for bass fishing and now it has a facility to match… it’s sure to be a huge hit for both tournament events and normal fishing activities.

The park is well worth a visit, not only because of how beautiful the whole area feels but also because of one or two key touches that have been made. First, there is the statute that is dedicated to the Service Men who served in the Seige of Bataan & Corregidor. The statue is a poignant reminder of those who gave their lives so others could live free lives and there is also a nice plaque that gives all the key information about the conflict. There is also a revealing book sculpture at the foot of the statue that reads “Honor those who died that you might stand here free this day” – a soldier of Bataan.

As you wander around you’ll also observe the nice playground areas but one thing I really like is the way that the Kissimmee Monument of States is now incorporated into the park. Previously it seemed like a one off statue that someone found a spot of land to build it on!

The history behind the Monument of States is that it was the vision of Dr. Charles Bressler-Pettis, a local tourism booster, who wanted a physical symbol of American unity in the dark days of early World War II. Bressler-Pettis wrote letters to every governor as well as to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to send him local rocks.  The donations arrived in a variety of formats including blocks of native granite, chunks of quartz, small boulders, fossils, hunks of old buildings and one contributor even sent a human skull!  The monument was constructed throughout 1942 and was dedicated in 1943. The tower is approximately 50-foot tall and was constructed representing all 48-states. Later rocks from Hawaii and Alaska, as well as 21 other countries, were added to the surrounding walkway and in 2001, following some decay and the 9-11 attacks, the tower was refurbished.

Construction continues at Lakefront Park with a scheduled completion date to be in either October or November of 2014. Make sure you pop along before then to check it out though as there’s plenty to explore and a lovely promenade to walk while taking in the lake view!


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