has recently finished what some call the community's crown jewel: the $28 million expansion and restoration of Lake Eva Park
The 8-acre project, on the site of a previous park, included a waterfront 30,000-square-foot banquet hall seating up to 1,400 people, a concert band shell, new and improved playgrounds, bicycle trails, tennis courts and outdoor basketball courts.
The complex also has a 25-meter competition swimming pool, a water play area for young children, the restoration of the old armory building and a walking path along Lake Eva.
This past July 4, The Commodores played at an Independence Day event at the park. The expansion work began in March 2008, but the vision for the project started about 10 years earlier. City commissioners wanted an events facility to serve eastern Polk County and central Florida. Planning for the project took about three years.
Today, people are calling Haines City to use the Eva Park facility for weddings, corporate meetings and other events.
"It turned out great," says Haines City Parks and Recreation Director Kelly Callihan. "The community really taken ownership of the park. It has made a difference."
Haines City paid for most of the park costs. It also received $400,000 in county, state and federal grants.
Writer: Dave Szymanski
Source: Kelly Callihan, Haines City Parks and Recreation Department