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The Lake Concord Park Second Act

By Kristen Chamberlain Sawicki, Special Projects Coordinator City of Casselberry, Administrative Services Department

The 1,400-foot boardwalk, which extends the entire length of Lake Concord, was built and installed by Backwoods Bridges of Freeport, Florida. It was constructed of recycled composite materials, including a Flexi-Pave composite decking, and crushed concrete base material. The bridge is fitted with LED lighting as well.

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The City of Casselberry, Florida with the help of landscape contractor First Integrity Landscaping and maintenance by Carol King Landscape, takes a dilapidated lake park and converts it into a community centerpiece. Complete with a play structure, café area, interactive water feature, boardwalk and stage area, the project is a model for sustainable landscaping.

Tex Brick Pavers of Orlando, Florida installed the hardscape using three types of porous paving materials, including pervious concrete, recycled tire materials and turf block. The trees surrounding the cafe area are Chickasaw Plum and Live Oak. The plants displayed in the garden bed include Dwarf Walter Viburmum, Trailing Lantana, and Indian Hawthorn. Photos courtesy of The City of Casselberry, Florida

Within the heart of the City of Casselberry, Florida lies a natural area that was home to a park and a poorly functioning storm-water detention pond. Although this site was situated alongside the picturesque Lake Concord, it was seldom visited, and, aside from the few stands of old growth trees, lacked any real character or charm. City staff saw an opportunity to create a centerpiece for the city and redevelop its major economic corridor along US 17/92. Dubbed the ''Lake Concord Park'' project, this was the city's first endeavor to provide its residents and businesses with an identity and ''sense of place.'' To make this vision a reality, the city applied for and received grants from the State of Florida and funding from other sources such as the city's Community Redevelopment Agency and Storm-water Fund. The park was completed in October 2009 for $2.3 million.

Integrity First Landscaping, LLC of Maitland, Florida was the landscape contractor for the project. They laid the St. Augustine grass, both Floratam and Bitter Blue, sod. They installed all the irrigation for the entire project. The area is irrigated daily by way of eight separate irrigation zones. The contractor installed the main control box on the northeast corner of the Public Work Administration building. The irrigation timers are set to run automatically from midnight to 8:00 AM.

The plants in the foreground include Aztec Gold Daylilies and Dwarf Walter's Viburnum. They were planted by hand, using planting mix (topsoil/peat) and pine bark mulch. The plants are irrigated using a traditional rotor irrigation system. The park irrigation system uses no potable water, instead it uses two alternative sources for irrigation: Harvested storm water and reclaimed water. The large trees in the background include Sand Live Oaks and Live Oaks that existed prior to the construction of the project. Some of the smaller trees planted as part of the project include the Southern Magnolia and Japanese Privet. The Italian-made ornamental fountain consists of a multi-tier basin fountain with up-lighting. The City chose not to repaint the fountain to maintain its rustic and aged look. The mulch shown here is pine bark and pine needle mulch.

The Contractors: Landscape, Hardscape and Bridge Builder

APEC, Inc. was the general contractor for the Lake Concord Park project, and oversaw the park construction and hired contractors for the landscaping, bridge bulding and hardscape. Integrity First Landscaping, LLC of Maitland, Florida was the landscape contractor for the project. They laid all of the 220,000 square feet of sod, and planted 65,000 square feet of trees, shrubs and other plant material. They ran irrigation conduit throughout the entire project, including under the hardscape. Beyond the usual challenges of completing a landscape project of this size, they were also put under a tight time constraint. They had only one month to complete the entire project, in order for the park to be ready for city festival that was planned.

Tex Brick Pavers of Orlando, Florida installed all the hardscape. They utilized various types of porous paving materials, including pervious concrete, recycled tire materials and turf block. Backwoods Bridges of Freeport, Florida constructed and installed the 1,400-foot boardwalk. The boardwalk, which extends the entire length of Lake Concord, is made of environmentally friendly materials, including Flexi-Pave, composite boardwalk decking, and crushed concrete base material. The boardwalk features energy-efficient LED lighting as well.

APEC and its contractors performed most of the construction work, as the city conducted the inspections, installed the educational signage, and assisted with some of the utility work. The park was designed by CDM with the guidance of the city's Public Works Department, Community Development Department, and the Parks & Facilities Division. HHI Design, a consultant to CDM, was responsible for the landscape design.

Integrity First Landscaping, LLC used 220,000 square feet of sod, as well as planting 65,000 square feet of additional plant material in a 1-month timeframe. Carol King Landscape, as well as one city maintenance worker maintains the park. King mows the area twice per week in the growing season (spring through fall) and once per week in the non-growing season (late fall through winter). St. Augustine grasses were planted to minimize irrigation needs.

Integrating Storm Water Technologies

Numerous storm water technologies were installed to help protect Lake Concord from pollutants and runoff. Lake Concord Park has become a showcase serving as a home to a many events and concerts. Aside from its social value, Lake Concord Park is a clear illustration of Casselberry's dedication to the area's environment and ecology. Its construction and usage clearly delineates the city's endeavor to conserve and protect the communities' natural resources by implementing Florida-native and Florida-friendly landscaping, storm water retrofits, and use of environmentally friendly materials.

In terms of landscape, the park design incorporates low-impact development practices, including the preservation of existing mature oak trees, and landscaping with 40 different Florida-native and Florida-friendly plant species. Native vegetation is more resistant to insect and disease attack, and is better suited to survive Florida's
weather conditions.

The plant material was chosen based on its ability to uptake pollutants and survive in fluctuating wet and dry conditions. The wetland along the lakeshore was also replanted using native species to improve the natural habitat, provide better water quality and erosion control.

Prior to the construction of Lake Concord Park, the city hired a certified tree arborist to perform an assessment of the existing trees to determine which should be saved, and how many trees should be added to maximize the tree canopy. In addition, the city obtained funding through the Urban & Community Forestry Grant Program to remove invasive and hazardous trees from the Lake Concord shoreline, and replace them with native Florida trees. As a result, the city improved the environmental quality of Lake Concord Park.

Lake Concord Park further demonstrates innovation by merging landscaping design with culture and art. Treetop sculptures were created by ''recycling'' two large trees that were scheduled to be removed. Creative landscaping was also used to disguise a chiller plant located between Lake Concord Park and a parking lot. Previously an eyesore, the chiller plant is now surrounded by a combination of the fragrant Yellow Anise and the low-maintenance Dwarf Walter's Viburnum.

The park's rain garden features Golden Canna, (Yellow Florida Canna Lily), Golden Canna, Lily of the Nile (African Lily or Agapanthus), Holly Fern, and African Iris (Fortnight Lily or Butterfly Iris). The landscape were planted by hand using a topsoil and peat mix, as well as pine bark mulch. On average, the landscape maintenance teams spends 16 hours per week in Lake Concord Park for landscape maintenance. City maintenance workers contribute about 25 hours per week. The city of Casselberry installed all of the signage.

Storm-Water Retrofits

The site's previously poorly performing storm-water pond was reduced by 87 percent to increase the usable open space within the park and allow the city to showcase new technologies. The storm-water runoff is now treated by an ex-filtration trench and the newly-created 0.09-acre storm water pond. An underground ex-filtration trench allows rain runoff to travel through the ground where it is cleaned of any pollutants picked up along the way. The benefits of the underground ex-filtration trench are two-fold. It also provides a lush green area suitable for recreation, and it cleans the water. Landscaping was used to blend the storm-water technologies seamlessly into the park.


The Lake Concord Park project would not have been possible without the contribution of several partners, including the Casselberry Redevelopment Agency, the Department of Environmental Projection, and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The Casselberry Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is a 7-member board responsible for administering the City's Downtown Redevelopment Plan. Recognizing the importance of Lake Concord Park to the revitalization of Casselberry, the CRA provided $200,000 for the design and $800,000 for the park's construction. Aside from its recreational and cultural value, Lake Concord Park serves as a conduit for attracting economic redevelopment for the city. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is responsible for administering the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) to local governments. FRDAP is a competitive grant program that provides financial assistance for development or acquisition of land for public outdoor recreational purposes. The City applied for and received $400,000 in FRDAP grant funding, which was used towards the development of Lake Concord Park.

A diseased oak tree was transformed into a ''Family of Herons'' sculpture, and a dead magnolia stump was carved into a solitary heron. These two sculptures were carved into the top of two large which were scheduled to be removed.

A Symbol Of Sustainable Landscape

Lake Concord Park is symbolic of the city's focus to create a cultural centerpiece, while also providing meticulous attention to environmental protection and enrichment of the area. From the use of Florida-native and Florida-friendly trees and plants, to its detailed storm-water practices, Lake Concord Park is a shinning example of sustainability. The city's ultimate goal to provide residents with a strong sense of community and an opportunity to learn about and appreciate the natural environment today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.

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November 13, 2019, 8:10 pm PDT

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