A welcome center being developed for the Se7en Wetlands Park will tell a story about how in the 1980s, the city of Lakeland set an example for other jurisdictions on how to treat wastewater through nature.

After purchasing 1,640 acres on Carter Road, the city sought to treat wastewater through a series of ponds in a way that works “parallel with the existing environment,” said Jon Kirk, the project architect for the Se7en Wetlands Welcome and Education Center.

His firm, Straughn Trout Architects, recently got the go-ahead from the City Commission to prepare construction documents for the center.

Rendering from Staughn Trout Architects

“We have drawn upon the site’s diverse history to create a unique identity for the Welcome and Education Center,” Kirk said. “The current design of the facility nods to the early phosphate mining operations in Polk County and the technical process of controlling and treating water.”

Once completed, the facility will offer Lakeland residents a place to learn as they enjoy the wetlands and park trails, which opened to the public in April 2018.

The facility is an opportunity to educate the public on statewide water-related issues and promote problem-solving for these issues, he said.  

Our video from April 2018:

The Se7en Wetlands Welcome and Education Center design features an outdoor classroom area, amphitheater-style seating, and a rainwater harvesting system.

The 5,000-square-foot building will also include a lobby with a welcome area and educational exhibits.

While the final construction budget is yet to be determined due to an uncertain timeline, the cost for the construction document phase is $141,000.  

Se7en Wetlands currently receives the city of Lakeland's treated wastewater, Lakeland Electric's reuse water, and Polk County's excess reclaimed water, Kirk said.

“The educational component will highlight the city’s wastewater wetlands treatment process and promote the benefits of reusing treated wastewater,” Kirk said.

Indoor exhibits and an outdoor classroom offers children and adults an opportunity to learn about the wastewater wetland park system and the Florida aquifer.

The city has authorized Straughn Trout Architects to proceed with the project, and construction documents — the final design — are to be completed before the 2021 state grant cycle begins, Kirk said.

“The facility will also exemplify how science and technology can be used to promote conservation via wastewater, stormwater, and ecology,” Kirk said.

Features of the Se7en Wetlands Welcome and Education Center:

  • Lobby with a welcome area
  • Educational exhibits both in the facility and outdoors
  • 50-person-capacity multi-purpose room
  • Open-office workspace
  • Accessible ramp system
  • Rainwater-harvesting system

City Commission authorization:

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