As Angela Heater walked from the Palms of Sebring Friday, she said, she’s happy about the creation of the nearby Centennial Park in the triangle that motorists see as they enter Ridgewood from Lakeview Drive.
“I think it’s an asset,” Heater said. “It will add to the area.”
Down the street, Alice Chapman, an employee of a business on Ridgewood, agreed that it “definitely makes it (the area) look nicer,” but wonders whether the $70,000 spent to landscape and design the land “could have been used elsewhere.”
The dedication of Centennial Park and planting of a tree for Earth Day will take place Monday at 11:30 a.m.
Robin Hinote, director of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, said Centennial Park is not what some may think of as a park, such as a large area with swings, slides, athletic fields and other such amenities. But, she said, park is more of a general term.
The main purpose is to beautify the entrance to the city’s downtown area and that was a goal in the 20-year plan for downtown Sebring, Hinote said.
“It was very unattractive,” Hinote said of the triangle, before the CRA bought it from a private owner in 2011 for $30,000. The CRA had been trying to purchase the land since 2009, she said.
Subsequently, the CRA gave the property to the city.
Design and construction of the park about $77,000, Hinote said.
The construction included planting 11 cathedral live oak, 34 cabbage and sable palms and a large variety of shrubs, such as Indian hawthorne.
Among those happy about the improvements is Lily Maldonado, a hairdresser at Serenity Pointe Salon and Spa.
“It’s going to help our business,” she said. A lot of people apparently drive by without noticing the business, she said.
Now, people drive by and look the beautified triangle and can’t help but notice it, she said. “It’s the first thing you see when you are coming to the circle,” she said.
Chapman said she’s concerned about whether someone will maintain it and provide enough water for the plants.
“If it’s not watered, it’s not going to look nice,” she said.
She said she doesn’t know where the money could have been used elsewhere, but believes there was somewhere.
But Hinote said she has no doubts about the importance of the project to downtown Sebring.
An attractive entrance “to me is important for people to see when they come into our beautiful downtown,” she said.