Ecologically Speaking

Maggie Ardito, president and co-founder of the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop Alliance, shows renderings of the Lakeshore Eco-Village before setting off on a free cultural bike tour from Green Springs Park to Osteen on Friday, Nov. 6. The eco-village is a possibility to replace the old Deltona Community Center.

The “crowned jewel” is coming to fruition.

Ryan Reckley, Deltona director of parks and recreational services, said instead of going with traditional types of recreation, such as sports and playground areas at the soon-to-be Lakeshore Eco-Village on Lake Monroe, the city is concentrating on canoeing, kayaking and trails for biking, walking and jogging.

“It’s an unknown crowned jewel of Deltona,” Mr. Reckley said. “This will really be letting people know that we have a great experience awaiting them at Lakeshore. We’re hoping it contributes to the eco-tourism and people coming out to utilize the trails a little more.”

The Lakeshore Eco-Village is on the Lakeshore Loop Trail and connects Thornby Park and Green Springs Park, which hooks into the “world class trail system here in Central Florida,” said Jerry Mayes, Deltona economic development manager. The system includes Florida’s Coast-to-Coast Trail; St. Johns River-to Sea Loop Trail; and the Volusia County Spring-to-Spring Trail.

“They all run together,” Mr. Mayes said. “In reality, Deltona being the center of that. Deltona, per the state of Florida, has been designated as a ‘Trail Town.’ The Lakeshore-Eco Village is designated by the State of Florida’s Greenways and Trails, as a trail head.”

Mr. Mayes said he’s been working with others on the project for six of the 10 years he’s been with the city. He said there’s an 8,200-square-foot building, which was used as a senior center for many years, and it would be leased out.

“It’s the only state recognized trail head and, in my opinion, the best site in this section that’s right on the bike trails,” he said of the project. “At this point we know it will have a café and (full-service) bicycle shop and probably small office for canoe and kayak rentals.”

Mr. Mayes said he and city officials are in talks with several who are interested in leasing the property, which would include part of the parking lot. The city plans to use the 2,200-square-foot red schoolhouse building by renovating it into an information center for a heritage museum and eco-tourism.

Also, he said the city has just opened the beginning of the Butler Chain of Lakes Blueways Trail for canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. It’s on the eastside of Deltona. The more than 20-mile trail goes through the lakeshore, canals, Lake Theresa, Lake Louise, Lake Butler, Lake Anne Marie, Lake Clara, Lake Angela and Lake DuPont.

“There are three landings at this point (Festival Park, Lake Butler Park, Lake DuPont Park). We plan on developing more,” Mr. Mayes said. “We will be submitting to the state to be recognized for that trail (Butler Chain of Lakes Blueways Trail).”

He hopes that by 2021, the city will be building two more nature parks, which would make for a total of 11 citywide, complete the Lakeshore Eco-Village, finalize the Blueways Trail and create another Blueways Trail that comes out of the Lakeshore Eco-Village area.

“It feels like I’ve got a long way to go,” he said, but progress is being made. “It’s one of my favorite projects.”

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