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City commissioners approve new concept for Munn Park

Here’s what Lakelanders can expect going forward at this downtown landmark.

A conceptual rendering of Munn Park's revitalization is shown, including a large lawn, pavilion, and interactive play structures.

Here’s what’s next for Munn Park in downtown Lakeland.

Image provided by City of Lakeland

Munn Park is getting a makeover. During the Tuesday, May 14 session of the City of Lakeland’s 2024 strategic planning retreat, city commissioners approved a new design concept for Munn Park in downtown Lakeland.

Lakelanders were first asked for their thoughts on the project concept in January 2023. Over a year after city officials went back to the drawing board based on public feedback, engineering consulting firm Pennoni Associates presented two new concepts for the park. Note: The following images and descriptions are entirely conceptual and nothing has been finalized at this time.

Concept One

This concept would be anchored by a sizable shade pavilion on the north side of the park with a building for public restrooms underneath.

Other key features could include a swan-themed interactive water feature, a dog park on the northwest side side of the park, entry gardens, a family play area, space available for community programming, and a large community lawn.

Concept Two

Rather than a pavilion, this concept would be anchored by a multistory building that would house public restrooms, as well as potential dining options.

Entry gardens + a dog park were also key features of this concept, as well as a shade structure that could double as an event stage and a smaller interactive water feature. The lawn in this concept would be around 15% smaller than in the first to accommodate the size of the building.

Both concepts use the park’s existing footprint and would condense the amount of parking available in the lot north of the park to primarily ADA and load/unload only spaces.

After a discussion and question period, city commissioners took an informal vote to move forward with the first concept. A timeline is TBA, but an official design will be finalized next, along with estimated project costs. Check out the discussion in this recap. Pro tip: Skip to 37 minutes in.

A rendering showing a water feature, sculpture, palm trees, and a pavilion in Munn Park.

The first concept for Munn Park is anchored by a shaded pavilion + could include things like an interactive water feature, family play area, and more.

Image provided by City of Lakeland

What Lakelanders are saying

We asked our readers + social followers what they thought of the new concept commissioners chose — 39% said they love it, 36% like it, and 25% are hoping for something different.

Some raved about the concept:

  • “Looks incredible. The fountain and dog park will be great to have.” — @mr.international13_
  • “Modern, with nice traditional touches.” — Reader Mike L.
  • “The pavilion has been on my lists of wants for music events. Love Option 1.” — Reader Sandra D.

A few would like more nods to downtown Lakeland’s history:

  • “Since Munn Park originally was a railroad hub, maybe put some kind of theme pertaining to that era. So that part of history about the park is not forgotten.” — Reader Cindy H.
  • “Leave park as is and maybe go retro. It was always a nice downtown area.” — Reader Ken K.

Others weren’t as excited about the design:

  • “Just not impressed. Nothing wrong but no wow,” — Reader Robert B.
  • “Like the idea but there is no place to really sit. Especially during the food truck rallies; great concept but I like to seat and eat. Maybe more park benches.” — Reader Sherry C.
  • “Love these ideas but not for downtown honestly.” — @emmalaurenpoole

Responses were divided on the addition of public restrooms, with some all for it and others asking the city to reconsider. Many readers also told us they’re curious to see how the city will help those experiencing homelessness that frequently use the park.
Leave your thoughts or join the conversation with other Lakelanders as plans move forward on the redevelopment.