City News Blog


This is the official blog of the City of Lakeland, Florida. Check back frequently to stay up to date with all that going on in our beautiful city!

The Florida Department of Transportation has launched plans for widening US 98 in South Lakeland, increasing this 4-lane road to a 6-lane highway.  Due to the CSX railroad right-of-way on the east side, the only area for lanes to be added is on the west side, where two additional lanes are planned.  The reconstruction of US 98 in this area will conflict with our existing water main along the east side of US 98.  The pipe relocation project includes digging a trench, installation of a twelve inch water main, and construction of a new compacted road base which is designed to then support the new driving surfaces.

City Water Distribution crews are working on an accelerated schedule to relocate the water main. The relocated main is being aligned so as to not conflict with the later road work, storm sewers, drainage structures and other road improvement activities.   The new water main will be of materials better suited to be under road surfaces and will be buried at greater depths thereby preventing main failures due to the later road widening construction.  Due to the very narrow construction corridor our water main must be installed first as it is the deepest utility and must be placed prior to other utilities (cables, etc.).

Transitioning from old to new water mains should have no appreciable impact on our water customers, or adjoining business owners.  The new water main must be tested, disinfected and cleared for use by the Department of Health, before being put in service.  Once the new main is in service, we will then disconnect the old water main and properly abandon the line.

This project is expected to cost less than $300,000 dollars and is being performed by our own city crews giving us direct control of schedules, priority and work quality.  When working with active mains and customer services, we prefer to handle these projects internally to ensure uninterrupted customer services, prompt restoration of disturbed areas and to fully control the order of the work. 

According to project foreman, John Sanders, “To meet the demands of the schedule, for the project, a larger than normal crew is being utilized. The crew consists of two temporary workers, four pipefitters, one crew leader and two foremen.” The process consists of a backhoe digging a trench, pipefitters lowering the pipe in place, making the mechanical joint connections, running tracer wire, a front-end loader filling back in the dirt and a crew tamping down each of three one foot tall layers.  The crew’s daily installation schedule is averaging 120 feet of pipe, in 18 foot lengths. The pipe relocation project is expected to be complete by May 6th 2011.

The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) just awarded The Lakeland Center as host site of the state wrestling tournament for the next three years. Upon reviewing proposals submitted by several venues, The Lakeland Center was granted the contract after receiving the highest scores based on quality of the facility, experience, volunteer staff, financial considerations and other proposal criteria.

Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields had this to offer in congratulations to The Lakeland Center and their partner Polk County Sports Marketing, “The City of Lakeland is proud to once again serve as the host venue for this prestigious state sporting tournament. We thank the FHSAA for providing our fine city with the remarkable opportunity to accommodate the FHSAA’s athletes, their families and fans for another exciting three years of tournaments. Our appreciation also extends to the talented staff of Polk County Sports Marketing, under the vision and direction of Executive Director Mark Jackson, for their ongoing financial support and assistance in the preparations of our  winning bid documents. We look forward to another three years of state wrestling tournaments and the support of our valued Championship Committee sponsors.”

The Lakeland Center has hosted FHSAA events for more than three decades providing a superior venue for these prestigious state level tournaments. Contestants travel from all points of Florida’s peninsula to compete in the championship tournament and stay in the region for several days providing millions of dollars in economic impact. Teams are encouraged to bring not only contestants but family and friends to enjoy our area’s accommodations, dining and shopping attractions.

The Championship Committee comprised of over 30 local leaders is responsible for tournament operations and are instrumental in assisting with sponsorship funding. The tournaments are generously supported by platinum sponsors Central Florida’s Polk County Sports Marketing, Publix Supermarkets and The Ledger Media Group. In addition to the platinum Championship Committee Sponsors, more than 20 other proud local businesses provide vital financial support through their gold, silver and bronze sponsorships.  

The Lakeland Center offers a full variety of sporting events, concerts and shows. Located minutes between Orlando and Tampa in Lakeland, Florida off I-4 on Lime Street, The Lakeland Center is a short drive from anywhere in Central Florida. Regular box office hours are Monday-Friday 9:30am-5:30pm and two hours prior to most events. For ticket information, call the Box Office at (863)834-8111 or  to charge by phone 800-745-3000. Additional information is available at our website at

Lakeland Electric will hold a press announcement at the Sun n Fun Fly-In on Wednesday, March 30th at 2 p.m.  announcing the construction of a 5.5 megawatt (MW) solar farm to be deployed in alliance with SunEdison at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. Once the dual-phased solar farm is completed, it is expected to generate more than 216 million kilowatt hours of clean solar energy over 25 years.   Details of the project will be shared during the announcement.

The first phase of the solar farm is expected to break ground in June and completed by the end of 2011. The second phase is expected to be completed in 2012. Once the solar farm is constructed, it is expected to be comprised of more than 18,000 solar panels and generate an estimated 9 million kWh of solar electricity annually.

"Lakeland Electric is very excited about this project because environmental stewardship and renewable energy options are keys to our success as a utility. It is vital that every utility consider carefully how to meet customers' increasing needs for electricity and do it in a way that is fiscally and environmentally prudent. Deploying utility-scale solar with no upfront costs is a win-win for Lakeland. We have already partnered with SunEdison on roof top implemented solar program but this project will be on a much larger scale.” noted Jim Stanfield, General Manager for Lakeland Electric.

The 5.5MW solar farm was made possible through a strategic solar power service agreement between SunEdison and Lakeland Electric. In the agreement SunEdison will finance and deploy the solar farm with no upfront costs from Lakeland Electric. In return, Lakeland Electric will purchase the power produced at long-term predictable rates for 25 years—adding to Lakeland’s energy mix while helping to improve the environment.

Over 25 years, the solar farm will produce enough clean energy to power more than 15,500 Lakeland homes for one year. In that same amount of time, the solar farm will offset more than 299 million pounds of carbon dioxide – equivalent to removing more than 29,000 cars from the road for one year.

Lakeland Electric is the third largest public power utility in the State of Florida.  The utility is also one of the first utilities established in Florida having started operation in 1889.  Today, power is generated at Lakeland Electric’s two main power plants, the 941-megawatt McIntosh Power Plant and the 176-megawatt Larsen Power Plant. The utility also operates a group of energy-efficient generating units capable of providing up to 50-megawatts of additional electricity when other units are out of service or during periods when demand for electricity is highest.  Lakeland Electric also has been on the forefront of introducing renewable energy to its customers with an early solar hot water heater program and now solar is a viable addition to the generation mix.

At the March 21st City Commission meeting the commission presented the master municipal clerk certificate to Debbie Cason, the Deputy City Clerk.

Proclamations were presented honoring Boys & Girls Club Week, Children’s Day, Margo McGill Day and Water Conservation Month.

Board member appointments were approved for Beverly O’Neill-Copeland and Bruce Lyon to the Lakeland Housing Authority. Neil Merrill was reappointed to the Code Enforcement Board. On the Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals board, Arthur Chappell will serve an additional term and Greg Brower was appointed as an alternate.

It was decided that members of City Boards and Committees shall be appointed for terms of three years and may not serve more than two consecutive three-year terms; after having served two consecutive three-year terms, members may not be eligible for reappointment to the SAME board until after the expiration of three years. Members could be reappointed to a DIFFERENT board without a delay.

Rabbi Moshe Lazaros explained the Jewish Holiday of Purim and presented the commissioners with traditional food baskets.

Shannon Lanier, Executive Director of Lakeland Vision, introduced the launch of a web survey tool available through March 31st that allows participants to express their opinions on budgeting priorities for next year’s City of Lakeland fiscal budget.

The commission voted to schedule a public hearing regarding a request from St. Paul Lutheran Church and School reference a message sign permit application.

Conditional use to allow expansion of church facilities at property located south of east Parker Street, east of north Massachusetts Avenue was approved.

The commission also voted to allow 612,203 square feet of additional warehouse and distribution space for Publix Super Markets on property located at 2600 County Line Road.

Also approved was an amendment to an existing development agreement for Doherty Holdings LLC for Centinel Center at Mall Hill Drive.

The City Manager’s recommendation to enter into a contract with Best Fence Company in the amount of $265,412 for continued security improvements at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport for fencing and access controls to be funded with a 100% Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) grant.

A resolution expanding membership of the Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board to include a representative of the Downtown Lakeland Partnership was approved.

Appointment of owners who are not city residents to the Dixieland and Mid-Town Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Boards was approved.

The Commission authorized the execution of a locally funded agreement with the FDOT for installation of irrigation and landscaping on U.S. 98 between W. 8th Street and Griffin Road.

Agreements with Key Government Finance, Inc. and Tampa Bay Trane for an Energy Efficiency Building Component Upgrade Project for LPD were approved.

A recommendation from the Utility Committee to lower the electric fuel charge by $2.00 to $50.50 per 1,000 kilowatt hours was passed by the City Commission.