Orlando Land Trust seeks to protect, expand Lake Eola Park’s impact

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Eugenia Sefcik and Lynn Long, founders of Orlando Land Trust (BECKY DREISBACH)

Lynn Long and Eugenia Sefcik have watched the growth of Downtown Orlando with pride — and concern. For years, both Orlando natives have sought ways to prevent scenic views of iconic Lake Eola Park from shrinking within an increasingly narrow, locked-in, high-rise-only footprint. The resulting research, meetings and networking led them to form the Orlando Land Trust.

Modeled after the Winter Park Land Trust, the OLT seeks to honor the step-down approach to density and building heights already recommended by the 2015 Project Downtown Orlando Vision Plan and the Downtown Orlando Outlook. The DTO Vision Plan and DTOutlook emphasized the importance of preserving green space and limiting high-rise encroachment surrounding the park that represents the City’s symbolic heart.

Jacob Summerlin’s 1883 land gift to the City of Orlando stipulated its fixed use as a public park for all generations to come. The fountain erected in small, sinkhole-formed Lake Eola in 1957 at once became an enduring Orlando icon. OLT’s goals to protect not just the physical but also the visual space around the park seem a fitting extension of Summerlin’s aspirations for his land gift.

This altered photo image offers a general idea of the additional land that will become a park when the Orlando Land Trust meets is first capital campaign goals. (ORLANDO LAND TRUST)

OLT’s initial capital campaign seeks $3.5 million to buy the property at North Rosalind Avenue and East Central Boulevard, currently occupied by the Murrell Building. The purchase will allow expanded green space near Lake Eola Park.

Until the Orlando Land Trust receives its applied-for nonprofit 501(c)3 status, the nationwide Trust for Public Land, which creates and restores parks, will act as OLT’s purchasing agent.

Correction: The original version of this article stated that the fountain erected in Lake Eola was dedicated in 1912. This was referring to the Sperry Fountain, not the Linton E. Allen Fountain. The Linton E. Allen Fountain was dedicated in 1957, and the article has been updated to reflect that.

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