It’s tough to find folks that don’t like green space. It’s long been a valuable asset in cities that strive to improve the quality of life for residents.
The City of Mount Dora is in the exploratory stage of adding a 12-acre park with panoramic views of Lake Dora to its public green space. The hilltop park would also include approximately 700 feet of lakefront.
The potential park would adjoin the Wekiva Bike Trail and include two unused parcels of city-owned land at the end of Boathouse Row totaling approximately two acres. It would also require the purchase of three connecting parcels of orange groves owned by Mount Dora Christian Academy. The 9.53-acre property would provide an expansive view of Lake Dora. A pedestrian bridge over Old Highway 441 could provide safe access to the park’s lakefront.
The market estimate obtained by the City of Mount Dora for the Academy-owned property is $1,343,800. If the purchase is viable, funding options may include grants, park impact fees, traditional loans, a bond, naming rights, a portion of current sales tax, private funding or ad valorem tax revenue. The city owns land near W.T. Bland library possibly of interest to the school, so there may be an opportunity for a property trade.
The park has the potential to help alleviate downtown’s parking shortage if city engineers deem an underground garage is appropriate.
“Residents’ input would be necessary to determine the park’s use and amenities,” said Mount Dora Councilman Mark Slaby, who asked city staff to examine the opportunity and its viability. “The park’s entrance, parking and traffic flow would also have input from neighboring residents.”
In addition to providing more amenities to residents, recreational opportunities and good schools lure skilled Millennials to an area. That workforce is often necessary to attract new businesses to an area, including Mount Dora's planned Innovation District.
Mount Dora City Council and the public will learn more details about the park's viability at upcoming work sessions.
This bear was spotted on Hillside Drive on July 18 in the Lake Gertrude neighborhood of Mount Dora.
Guess who’s coming to breakfast? Two uninvited visitors caught Mount Dora resident Sarah Zimmerman by surprise this morning when she spotted them in front of her Lake Gertrude area home. The hilly neighborhood is popular with morning walkers and runners.
Zimmerman saw the adult black bear and her cub for approximately fifteen minutes beginning at 6:15. When the bears ran away it was in the direction of Hillside Drive.
“She was not scared of me at all and wasn’t aggressive, however our front yard is fenced and I made no attempt to go out of the fence,” said Sarah Zimmermann who lives on Hilltop Drive near Normandy. She stated the bear was also at their house on Saturday.
Bears have always been a part of Mount Dora, however development and destruction of their habitat pushes more of them into residential areas. Additionally, summer is breeding season when males search for mates and females forage for food.
In Florida, adult black bears on average weigh between 250 to 450 pound for males and 125 to 250 pounds for females. The largest bears in the state were found roaming Seminole County neighborhoods in 2015. Those bears were attracted to human-provided food or garbage, according to the Florida Wildlife Commission.
Bear reports have increased five times over the last ten years, accordingly to FWC. Here are some safety tips for dealing with bears and suggestions on how to avoid attracting them:
Running away can trigger an animal’s chase instinct, so it’s recommended to back away slowly.
Bears don’t like loud noise. To scare them off bang pots and pans together or use a marine air-horn.
Walkers and runners should carry a whistle in areas where bears are known to visit.
Never leave food out for bears or ‘cute’ cubs. It puts you and your neighbors at risk.
Garbage cans can provide a buffet for hungry bears and conditions them to return for food. Keep garbage can in your garage and only put out the morning of trash pick-up.
Feed your pets inside. Bears are attracted to pet food.
Remove wildlife feeders from your yard.
Thoroughly clean outdoor grills after use
Screen enclosures do not deter bears, so keep pet food and other attractants inside.
Pick ripe fruit from trees and pick up fruit on the ground.
If you see or suspect someone of feeding bears, contact FWC here.
Mount Dora's Parks & Recreation Director Roy Hughes at a portion of the newly improved Palm Island Boardwalk.
One of Central Florida’s best nature walks will reopen to the public on Saturday, July 15. The final phase of boardwalk improvements at Palm Island Park, located on Mount Dora’s lakefront, started in March and required closing the trails and the island to visitors.
“It completes the full boardwalk restoration that we started several years ago and replaced a 25-year-old boardwalk.” said Roy Hughes, Mount Dora’s Director of Parks and Recreation, regarding the improvements. “This new boardwalk is expected to last at least 50 years or longer.”
Palm Island Park is located at the end of Liberty Avenue at Tremain Street near the lighthouse on Lake Dora. The eight-acre natural preservation area includes picnic pavilions, trails and a wooden boardwalk winding through a dense woods. The lush native vegetation and moss-draped oaks transport visitors back to a serene Old Florida.
The park provides expansive views of Lake Dora and its natural habitat for Florida wildlife including ospreys, alligators, bald eagles, great blue herons, rabbits, egrets, anhingas and more.
The newly improved section of boardwalk is now wider and provides more seating along the way for visitors to pause to enjoy the scenery. A pavilion was also added which increases the park’s covered areas for picnics, reading and yoga.
One of the priorities during the improvement process was to preserve the park’s trees and natural environment. As a result, the path of the elevated boardwalk meanders around large native bald cypress, live oaks, palms and shrubs. Native plants disturbed by construction will be replaced in the coming weeks and are expected to fill in by the end of summer.
Hughes considers himself fortunate to have overseen the improvements to one of Mount Dora’s crown jewels, which was in disrepair when he began working with the city. Although he’s proud of this legacy, Hughes is quick to point out that the project had many passionate supporters over the years, including former City Councilman Michael Tedder who passed away last year. The boardwalk is located at 411 N. Tremain Street, It will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 15 and then open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Arrangements can be made for intimate weddings at the park by contacting Mount Dora Parks and Recreation Department. Click here for more photos of Palm Island Boardwalk.
Even the best kept secrets get spilled. The Leesburg Lightning is no exception.
July 12 is the last chance to get a heaping dose of summer American nostalgia.
During the Lightning home games, played at Buddy Lowe Field, classic songs blare from scratchy old speakers to provide commentary to particular plays. "Free Ride" roars when a batter is walked. "The Streak" blares every time a runner steals a base. Each retro tune has fans wondering about the last time they heard the song.
The small town experience is captured when players pass a bucket through the stands for donations because there is no admission cost for this summer entertainment. After one inning, the run of the Lightning Bugs ensues which gives the team's youngest fans the opportunity to gleefully run the bases.
The Lightning, a Florida Collegiate Summer League baseball team, consists of talented players from colleges throughout the country that compete in their off-season. Commonly referred to as the Florida League, the Lightning is as close to a minor league team as Lake County claims. This season seven teammates will complete in the league's All Star game.
In keeping with America's favorite past time, there are plenty of hot dogs, peanuts and eager kids vying for foul balls. The traditional seventh inning stretch is welcomed after sitting on the aluminum benches, but seasoned fans come prepared with their own stadium seats.
The whole experience is priceless Americana and well worth the short drive up US 441. The game starts at 7 p.m.