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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 6 years ago

Residents tour Central Park, Hand Avenue improvements

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Connecting the lakes has been discussed for more than 10 years.

BY WAYNE GRANT | STAFF WRITER

Mary-Ann Westbrook, of Ormond-by-the-Sea, said she has “double interest” in Central Park now that the lakes have been connected. She already hikes the trails, and now she plans to explore the waterways with a group of friends.

“We’ve been looking for a new place to kayak,” she said.

The primary reason for connecting the lakes was flood control. In 2009, a storm dumped nearly 30 inches of rain onto Ormond Beach, and Central Park area was especially hard hit. The city will now be able to draw down the water so the lakes can accept more rain.

“I love it,” said nearby resident Jim Eckstein. “The drainage is my main concern. In 2009, there was water up and down my street.”

Several residents toured the park last Friday on a Walk with the Manager, led by City Manager Joyce Shanahan. The guest walker was city engineer John Noble, who explained the changes to the area.

The five lakes were connected with culverts that are large enough to allow passage of a canoe or kayak. Also, Noble said, a small lake in the Pine Trail area, where several homes were flooded in 2009, was connected to the larger lakes with a drainage pipe.

Connecting the lakes is not a new idea. Joyce Ebbets said she and others wanted to connect them for recreational purposes when she served on the City Commission from 1999 to 2004.

“I’m glad to see it come to fruition,” she said.

Ebbets also wanted to build an environmental learning center at the park, which may also come true. The ECHO board is currently considering a funding request from the city for the center.

Much of the cost of the lake-interconnection project, as well as improvements to Hand Avenue, was paid by FEMA.

Hand Avenue was upgraded to “collector road” status. The lanes are now 12-feet wide rather than 10 feet, and turn lanes have been installed in two locations. While the road was dug up, the city replaced the old water mains with larger, 12-inch pipes.

As the work was being done, measures were taken to make the lakes cleaner. Storm water from the road passes through filters before it goes into the lakes and the filters are cleaned out every six months.

Dwight Durant, president of Zev Cohen, said the lakes will also be cleaner because the water is now able to circulate between the lakes.

Another new feature in the park is a wetland that was created for mitigation. Land was “scooped out” and littoral plants were added beside the trail from the Hand Avenue parking lot.

“The water comes in and goes back out,” Noble said.

Alma More, of Ormond-by-the-Sea, said she was impressed by the park and will probably be back.

“It’s a big park,” she said. “It goes on forever. I have shore birds where I live, but there are different birds here.”

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