Residents of Lake Mary offered a range of ideas for how to improve their downtown on Monday night, suggesting everything from making it more pet-friendly to slowing traffic so people are more likely to notice that it’s there. About 50 people attended a two-hour session, hosted by ACi Architects, a planning firm hired by the city.
Today the city’s downtown includes a leafy park with City Hall at its center and small businesses and empty lots surrounding it. Planners offered images of more sidewalks, public gatherings and an artist community, but primarily asked for resident input. Several residents said the existing city center was hardly recognizable as a downtown. “We’ve got to identify downtown Lake Mary,” said Dale Tryzbiak, who owned a business there for more than 20 years. “I just find it amazing that people that even live in town don’t even realize there’s a downtown.”
Community Development Director John Omana Jr. pointed out that the city is already planning to install two 20- to 25-foot columns to mark an entryway to the downtown at Fourth Street and Lake Mary Boulevard. Resident Leeanna Raw said she’d like to see more places to walk her dog and suggested the plan include hotels to accommodate traffic at nearby Orlando Sanford International Airport.
Residents raised concerns about infrastructure, attracting shops and businesses and eminent domain. A city official said Lake Mary had no plans to seize property. Many attendees were receptive to more mixed-use buildings and a pedestrian-friendly design.
Lake Mary has been working on plans to improve its 76-acre downtown since about 1991. Since then, it’s redone its City Hall, opened an events center and opened a new police station, among other projects.