A Town With A Park
Work didn’t stop with the coming of the YMCA. In the years following, David spent time giving back to our community in any way he could. From serving on local building committees to his role on the board of the Salvation Army, his passion for the betterment of our community only grew.
In recent years, David’s sole focus has been on one of his most exciting projects yet: Bonnet Springs Park. Together, he and Jean proposed a plan to the Barnett family that outlined the details for a 180-acre park area within the heart of Lakeland, mere walking distance to downtown.
The proposed park area is situated upon an old rail station, Florida’s former largest. The rail station saw use for a century before being abandoned, left as an eyesore to times gone past.
This isn’t David’s first time trying to renovate the area. In the 80s, David took on a joint venture with CSX Railroads to clear the property and develop a high-end business park. Then, recession struck, leaving David unable to fulfill his end of the agreement.
“So, I just sold my interest back to CSX, who owned the property,” David said. “That was a big disappointment because that was a major project that would’ve been good for Lakeland had it happened.”
Yet, the worst isn’t always what it seems. Leaving the property idle in inventory because of the business park fallthrough meant that it could be used for what it’s ideally suited for: an outdoors park.
“It’s a gorgeous piece of property,” David said. “It wants to be a park.”
The restoration of this area is ongoing, but final plans project this park to offer major social and economic benefits to one of the most downtrodden areas of the city. It’s as if the land speaks for itself, quietly nestled inside the hubbub of industry surrounding it.
“Where the railyards are is a plateau, but between that plateau and Lake Bonnett is a 50-foot fall with a live spring going through it,” Jean shared. “Most people in Lakeland are just oblivious to the fact that all that is there.”
Slated to open to the public in late 2020, Bonnet Springs Park is set to revolutionize how Lakelanders experience the outdoors. Featuring everything from a canopy walk to botanical gardens and an aquarium, Bonnet Springs Park isn’t just hoping to become Central Florida’s premiere outdoor destination – it’s doing everything in its power to make it so.
Citing the notion that every great city has a great park alongside it, David’s efforts to revitalize the Bonnet Springs area harbors welcomed change to our community. Once completed, Bonnet Springs Park will be conveniently close to both Lakeland’s downtown area as well as other residential areas, including a forthcoming apartment project that’s estimated to house some 1,700 Lakeland residents. The area will be easily accessible via most means of traditional travel, including by car, bike, and on foot, welcoming anyone to the lush amenities the park has planned to offer.