Behind the scenes with President Bill Tinsley
Sitting on the side-by-side all-terrain vehicle near the lagoon, in the cool air of early morning, it is time to reflect on the year ending at Bonnet Springs Park. Although I sit a close distance from three major state highways, and a short walking distance from downtown Lakeland, I can escape in the environment and explore nature’s wonders. The construction challenges have been enhanced with the pandemic affecting manufacturing and distribution systems, as well as labor, but we are seeing improvement as we draw closer to the finish. Our Bonnet Springs Park team is growing increasingly anxious to share these experiences with you.
Throughout the Park, visitors will see the results of the miles of trenches and wires, and other utilities that have been trenched and buried for the last two seasons as light poles are popping up all over the Park. The team at Strickland Electric is bringing light and cameras throughout the Park, giving a more formal feeling to the pathways, playgrounds, and gardens. Buildings are receiving their finishing touches as the Hollis Family Welcome Center, Harrell Family Greenhouse, and the beautiful Event Center are nearing their final inspections.
Trailing closely behind are The Depot, GiveWell Community Foundation Nature Center, Ann and Ward Edwards Boathouse, Florida Children’s Museum, and the Kiwanis Cares for Kids Treehouse. The first few months of 2022 will see final roofing dried in and the galleries, classrooms, and interior spaces come to life.
What we are most excited about sharing with the public is the changing environment. Work to complete the intersection of Bonnet Springs Boulevard and George Jenkins Boulevard has been cleared by the Florida Department of Transportation to proceed. Major changes to the intersection will begin in mid-January with signalization changes to accommodate the additional turn lanes and will end by early spring with the final paving of the entrance. Simultaneously, a final coat of asphalt will be installed on the Lakeland Regional Health Circulator.
This winding loop path is twenty feet wide and connects all the Park activities for walkers and bikers. Planting of the beautiful landscapes with a strong emphasis on native plants continues, but our landscape design professionals at Sasaki ensured with their selections that we have introduced many new species to bewilder amateur botanists. The unique pallet of plant material will challenge you to learn more about plants and their contribution to our environment.
As I sit here in this wonderful space contemplating 2021, where a team of people with a vision has transformed a former industrial site into what will be one of Lakeland’s greatest assets, I am thinking of how this miracle came to be. The loss this season of one of our founding members, Carol Jenkins Barnett, who not only saw an incredible opportunity to make a meaningful environmental and social change but encouraged the start of this journey, has deeply saddened us all. Her support, design influence, and leadership have given this one-of-a-kind privately funded public park its life. This gift to Lakeland and Central Florida and their future generations would not be, if not for Carol. Carol’s passion for early education, the environment, and families will live forever in Bonnet Springs Park. Thank you, Carol, and your many friends, and loved ones who are bringing this dream to reality in 2022. Peace to all.
Behind the scenes with CEO Josh Henderson
The New Year seems to be the widely accepted time to evaluate the paths of our lives and identify a specific point in time to draw a line in the sand and start something new….the New Year’s Resolution. Inevitably for many those resolutions seem to revolve around our physical and mental wellbeing. That may be going to the gym, attempting less screen time, eating healthier, reading X number of books, etc.
When thinking of those resolutions, I believe that Bonnet Springs Park will offer opportunities to fulfill many of them. Whether it’s health & wellness, community engagement, educational or philanthropic, Bonnet Springs Park has an opportunity for all. While we are still busy with construction there are several things that members of our community can do to support the efforts of this great Park.
We realize that not everyone is able to make a gift to our Capital Campaign but there are other opportunities available to support the BSP mission. Our bench program has a limited number of benches left available for purchase. It’s a great opportunity to memorialize or dedicate a space to one’s family members or friends and the brick program is a more affordable option to show support of the Park. The Friends of Bonnet Springs Park is a support organization whose members are Park advocates that spread the vision of what this exciting Park will offer our community. While a $30 gift may not seem like much on the surface, the impact of those gifts adds up. The Friends of Bonnet Springs Park membership funds have purchased several pieces of exercise equipment along the Lakeland Regional Health Circulator in the AgAmerica Heritage Garden. Crowd source funding at its finest!
Last, but certainly not least, we have many volunteer opportunities that will exist in the Park once we open. We are compiling a list of those interested in volunteering when the time is right. Click this link to register in advance!
With all of that said, make your New Year’s resolution and let BSP help you achieve it!
From the entire team here at Bonnet Springs Park, we wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to what 2022 will mean for BSP and our community.
Park Playground Announcements 🌿
In December, the Park announced the additions of the Joe L. and Karen Ruthven Train Playground and Mable the Mosaic Owl! Both playgrounds are sure to provide unique ways for our community to escape, engage and explore! We thank the generosity of our donors for providing these unique pieces to our Park!
Construction Updates 🌿
In the month of December, we showed several Park construction updates from the Hollis Family Welcome Center to the GiveWell Community Foundation Nature Center. The Park is coming together so beautifully and we cannot wait to share it with you all!
2021 Christmas Parade 🌿
Thank you to everyone who joined us for The Lakeland Christmas Parade! Our team had a blast putting together our float and we are excited to be a part of the parade for years to come. Special thanks to the Friends of Bonnet Springs Park for helping us bring this float to life. We cannot wait to be a part of the Lakeland Christmas Parade for years to come!
Leave Your Mark on the Park!
Looking to leave a lasting legacy at Bonnet Springs Park? We’ve got you covered! Visit our site to learn more about sponsoring engraved bricks and benches. Purchases of bricks and benches purchased after 9/30 cannot be guaranteed to be placed by the grand opening. For more information, contact Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give a Gift of Friendship!
As a Founding Friend, help us grow our membership! A Founding Friends annual household membership is ONLY $30.00. It also makes a great gift!
Give a Founding Friends membership as a birthday, graduation, or wedding gift! Be an advocate for the park and be sure to tell people everywhere that you go about the great work that is being done to bring this amazing resource to the community. There are still so many people who haven’t yet heard about Bonnet Springs. Be sure to tell your friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and fellow members at the organizations where you belong, such as PTA, sports teams, church groups, social and civic clubs to go to www.bonnetspringspark.com and become a Founding Friend!
Founding Friends is a unique group of individuals and families who have demonstrated their support of Bonnet Springs Park prior to the Grand Opening.