Significant renovations in store for Orlando’s Grand Avenue Park
This spring, NRPA and the City of Orlando Families, Parks and Recreation Department will begin working with generous donors on the renovation of Grand Avenue Park, the site chosen for the 10th NRPA Parks Build Community project. Portions of the park will undergo significant renovations as corporate donors and local companies come together to transform the area into a vibrant public space where residents of all ages can gather and play. The renovated park will be unveiled during the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, October 27–29.
“NRPA is thrilled to announce its 10th Parks Build Community project,” says Kristine Stratton, NRPA president and CEO. “Over the years, we’ve had the distinct privilege of working with donors and park leaders from local agencies in cities where we host our annual conference to bring these amazing park transformations to life. These projects demonstrate our commitment to ensure every person in every community has access to quality park and recreation amenities that boost quality of life and strengthen communities.”
The 12-acre parcel surrounding an architecturally significant and historic schoolhouse, built in 1926, creates the perfect landscape for Grand Avenue Park. This park was selected for the 10th NRPA Parks Build Community project, because it is at the center of a neighborhood in need of a renovated public space to serve the community. In addition, the City of Orlando Families, Parks and Recreation Department is planning multiple recreation enhancements and programs, including the renovation of the adjacent community center, making the overall project a community jewel.
Lisa Early, City of Orlando Families, Parks and Recreation director, says, “Playgrounds are such an integral part of childhood. I’ll never forget the wonderful experiences I was lucky to enjoy, swinging on swings and sliding down slides when I was a child. Residents of the neighborhood surrounding Grand Avenue Park feel the same way, and they’re thrilled to know that their beloved and historic park and its playgrounds are being renovated, and that now their own children will be able to build beloved memories there. I’m deeply grateful to the National Recreation and Park Association for supporting the Grand Avenue Park renovation, and I know the residents of this great neighborhood are grateful, too.”
In 1938, the Grand Avenue site was selected as one of four new summer playgrounds with activities supervised by the city’s then Recreation Department in partnership with the PTAs in the area. The purpose was to promote recreation for children, and it did for many years. Decades later, the school was slated for demolition, but was spared by the swift actions of the City of Orlando Families, Parks and Recreation Department leaders. The city is preserving the historic Grand Avenue Elementary School and repurposing the community landmark to a neighborhood center, which will include the relocation of the Pottery Studio and programming currently at the Downtown Recreation Center. It will also include expanded youth services for the neighborhood, including after-school and summer programs.
NRPA, along with the City of Orlando Families, Parks and Recreation Department, is proud to work alongside a growing group of generous donors that will contribute to the project, which is slated to begin during the spring. These donors include:
Greenfields Outdoor Fitness
BCI Burke Company
DuMor Site Furnishings
Epic Outdoor Cinema
Most Dependable Fountains, Inc.
Shade Systems, Inc.
Freenotes Harmony Park
NRPA’s Parks Build Community is a national initiative aimed at demonstrating the transformative value of parks on the health and vitality of communities across America. Living close to parks and other recreation facilities is consistently related to higher physical activity levels for both adults and youth.
For more information, visit the NRPA Parks Build Community webpage and follow the hashtag #ParksBuildCommunity. To learn more about participating in the 2020 Parks Build Community project, contact Gina Mullins-Cohen, NRPA’s vice president of communications and chief marketing officer.
Suzanne Nathan is NRPA’s Public Relations Manager.