The City of Orlando, Florida recently acquired an additional two acres to expand Loch Haven Park, a 45-acre park established in the 1930s and home to many of Orlando’s art and cultural institutions. The Loch Haven Park Improvement Plan was developed to take advantage of opportunities to improve park cohesion during this expansion, since many areas of the park were acquired and developed in a piecemeal fashion. The East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, with funding from the Winter Park Health Foundation, conducted an HIA of the Loch Haven Park Improvement Plan.
The HIA explored the potential impact on health through increased opportunities for physical activity, increased safety and perceived safety, and social capital. The improvement plan includes repairing and expanding pedestrian walkways; updating and improving lighting throughout the park; and increasing signage for wayfinding. The HIA found that implementing the proposed Loch Haven Park Improvement Plan would probably have positive effects on health.
The HIA also made recommendations to help maximize the potential health benefits. The HIA found that the improvement plan did not include specific widths for pathways to be improved. The HIA recommended that pathways be widened to account for two way pedestrian traffic, as well as multiple users (pedestrians and cyclists) during events in the park. The HIA also recommended that in addition to surveying and engineering new pathways, existing pathways should be surveyed to rectify impediments (such as utility poles) and ensure ADA compliance. The HIA also recommended incentives for employees and patrons to increase utilization of public transportation on SunRail and LYNX to decrease vehicle trips to the park. In addition to the wayfinding improvements already suggested in the improvement plan, the HIA recommended a central kiosk, to create cohesiveness among park amenities and provide a central location for park users.