Lakeland’s Se7en Wetlands Makes Cut in Gov. DeSantis Budget

Established more than 30 years ago, Lakeland’s Se7en Wetlands opened to the public in April 2018, with hiking trails for hikers to enjoy. (Stephanie Claytor/Spectrum News)

LAKELAND, Fla. — In the 2019 budget, Gov. Ron DeSantis approved several appropriation requests from Polk County legislators.

Se7en Wetlands receives funding for educational center Florida Polytechnic University’s Advanced Mobility Institute also gets funding

Topping the list, $500,000 to fund Florida Polytechnic University’s Advanced Mobility Institute, which is where autonomous vehicle research is expected to take place.

Polk State College also received $1.25 million in operational supports and $2.54 million in access to academic and workforce programs, according to the District Chief Legislative Aide in Sen. Kelli Stargel’s office.

Another big win, especially for nature lovers, was Lakeland’s Se7en Wetlands receiving $500,000 to construct an educational center at the waste water treatment facility.

Established more than 30 years ago, the facility opened to the public in April 2018, with hiking trails for hikers to enjoy.

"We’re excited that we did not make the veto list this year for sure," said Environmental Program Specialist Julie Vogel.

Gov. Rick Scott approved funding for the facility in 2016 and 2017, but vetoed $800,000 in funding in 2018. The money was going to fund constructing trails on the other five wetlands on the property and opening them up to the public.

The educational center will teach people about the water cycle and how the wetlands help suck up excess nutrients from the treated water before it flows back into the ocean, helping to prevent things such as Red Tide.

Se7en Wetlands has received multiple awards including the Public Education Award from the Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA), according to Vogel.

No date has been set yet for when construction will begin on the center.

Here’s a complete list:

Entity

Project/LFIR

Final result

Vetoed list

Sponsor(s)

HEALTH

Fl. Baptist / One More child

Single Mom’s program – #1173

200,000

Stargel/Tomkow

Anti Trafficking – #1173

100,000

Stargel/Burton

Family Support – #1174

200,000

vetoed

Stargel

Voices for FL

Open Doors Network – #1161

750,000

Stargel

All Pro Dad

Foster Parent/adoption #1167

475,000

Stargel

Pace Center for Girls

2,500,000

Tomkow

Parenting with Love and Limits

HB 2671

$750,000

Burton

Polk State College

Operational support

1,250,000

Stargel – support from delegation members

Access to Academic & Workforce Programs

2,540,288

Stargel – support from delegation members

2+2 Student Success Incentive Fund

349,353

Stargel

Polytechnic

Advance Mobility Research #1168

500,000

Stargel – support from delegation members

Graduate Program Growth #1172

500,000

-$500,000

Stargel

Statewide but Crystal Lake Elementary is part of this statewide initiative

$7,435,571

Stargel/Burton

YIG

Youth in Government – part of YMCA educational outreach

100,000

Stargel

Academic Tourney

Polk hosts but this is a statewide program

132,738

Stargel

First Robotics

#2222

200,000

-$200,000

Stargel

Heartland Waters

The Polk County 15 municipal governments prioritized their projects – this funding is for the top 3.

1,8442,279

Stargel

Lakeland’s Se7en Wetlands

Educational Center (HB 2169) (Senate Form 1722)

Albritton/ Burton

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