Fort Lauderdale Residents Chip In Ideas For Community Park Coming To Lockhart Stadium
With soccer coming to Fort Lauderdale again, residents have been giving their input for what they believe the Community Park at Lockhart Stadium should look like.
About 30 people gathered at a community meeting Monday night were the first to see the drawings of the plans for the public park that will go next door to David Beckham's Fort Lauderdale MLS facility. (His team, Inter Miami CF, is set to play its first two seasons there, starting March 2020.)
"I want to make sure that we incorporate just a peaceful space as well as an athletic space - and that will really be seamless with the soccer games when they come to town," City Commissioner Heather Moraitis said. She organized the meeting, one of the last chances for people to ask for revisions other than emailing city commissioners themselves.
The landscaping plans include a kickball field, a dog park, several walking trails, a splash pad, community pool, and multi-use community center - along with a street that can be closed to host city festivals. All of which are planned next to what will become the training facility, 18,000 seat stadium, and youth academy for Inter Miami CF.
Karen Polivka chairs the city's Parks Recreation Beaches Advisory Board for city. She also grew up going to Lockhart Stadium (designated in 1959) and still lives nearby.
"Our high school football games were there - I mean that was our Friday Night Lights," Polivka said. "That was like, '70s and '80s to be honest so... this refurbishment, everything is needed."
As part of the deal with the Inter Miami, a new football stadium will go up that Stranahan High School and Fort Lauderdale High will get to use.
However, Polivka is still asking the city to include more traffic and street safety features for some of the neighboring roads, including Commercial Blvd., and NW 12th Ave.
"Unfortunately, one of my dear friends was killed at 15th and Commercial, two years ago, leaving our soccer practice," Polivka said. "And so, just to the East….where our community center is going to be, there's no light...we need a light to be able to go back East and safely cross over Commercial Blvd."
The plans for the park aren't finalized yet. City commissioners are still negotiating the final touches, including any traffic changes, and the cost of the community park with Inter Miami CF.
The landscape architecture firm EDSA, based in Fort Lauderdale, drew up the first developed plans. However, the commission is expected to decide what aspects of the park city is willing to pay for - most likely the community center, splash pad and pool - at a meeting on June 18.
The money for the projects will come out of $25 million worth of bond funds, which has been allocated specifically for Lockhart Stadium in the list of prioritized park projects. Voters approved $200 million worth of general obligation funds in the March election earlier this year.
Moraitis said, when she was deciding what projects to put up a fight for in the park plans, she didn't look have to look farther than her own family and friends for inspiration.
"I definitely used my experience of raising my kids, and I love, just personally, whether it's exercising or hanging out with friends I think it's a healthy way to gather with people," she said.