Windsong Park Inc., a 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Corporation, grew from a group of Lakeland enthusiast who came together in 2015 to form a vision of a great public park. David Bunch, a longtime Lakeland Realtor, and his wife Jean Bunch presented a bold concept to Barney and Carol Barnett as a way to meet a community need for a special place near downtown Lakeland to complement the incredible growth that is anticipated in greater Lakeland and Polk County.
Great Cities have a great park. Examples of successful major cities all over the country and the significant contributions they are making to the livability of those cities were the cornerstone of these earliest discussions. Lakeland, lying between Orlando and Tampa along the I-4 corridor is poised to see significant growth in the future years based on geography, resources, infrastructure and appeal.
These visionaries realized that once available lands near the core downtown were developed, opportunity would be lost for the economic, social, recreational, environmental benefits of a large urban park. One tract of land large enough to fill this dream remained. The former CSX railyards property and adjoining lands comprised nearly 180 acres of undeveloped property within walking distance of downtown Lakeland. Bill Tinsley, former Parks and Recreation Director, and his wife Martha Tinsley, and the Barnett’s sons Wesley and Nicholas were added to the team that would spend the next 2 years enabling this future park opportunity, at the Barnett’s request. Windsong Park Inc. was formally constituted as a 501(c)(3) corporation with the purpose of enabling the development of a major Public Park for Lakeland.
Windsong Core Values
Bonnet Springs Park Background
In early 2015, after many years of involvement with CSX, and concern that the property may be lost to negative or under-utilization, David Bunch approached Carol and Barney Barnett, generous benefactors who are sensitive to the well-being of Lakeland, with the concept of a world-class, multi-dimension park on the former Lakeland yards. The underlying theme was “Great Cities Have Great Parks,” and reminder that within fifty years, greater Lakeland would have a population nearing one million. The Barnetts immediately recognized the potential for a great park on this incredible downtown land asset, and the threat that it could be lost at anytime to negative or under-development. They agreed to underwrite the assembly of the railyards and available nearby properties, the environmental remediation, and general enabling of the creation of what is now called Bonnet Springs Park. Bill Tinsley and David Bunch, with the counsel of an Advisory Committee consisting of Ana Wood, Pam Page, Gene Strickland, Rev. Arthur Johnson, Kim Elmhorst, and Bill Vass, and the abiding participation of the Barnett Family, agreed to donate their time and talents to this enabling process, now well underway. The project is presently at the point of environmental remediation and engaging a world class planning firm to design and carry forward plans for a “Great Park for a Great City.”