Community News

Healthy West Orange Trails Connection Formed to Promote, Activate and Enhance Trail System in West Orange

Steering Committee to determine best use of $5.5 million grant

Photo from left to right: John C. Williams, City Manager; Mark A Maciel, District 3; Colin Sharman, District 4, Mayor Pro-Tem; John Rees, Mayor, Citywide District 5; Lesa Boettcher, FHWO chief operating officer and HWOTC executive committee member; Barbara Giles, program manager, Bike/Walk Central Florida (facilitating organization); Kurt Ardaman (Winter Garden lawyer and also on HWOTC Executive Committee); Ron Mueller, District 2


WINTER GARDEN, Fla. (Feb. 11, 2022) – The Foundation for a Healthier West Orange (FHWO) announces the formation of a new steering committee – the Healthy West Orange Trails Connection (HWOTC). HWOTC promotes, activates, and enhances the trail system throughout West Orange to create opportunities for physical activity, social engagement, prosperity, and happiness.

The HWOTC Steering Committee includes the Town of Oakland, the City of Ocoee, the Town of Windermere, the City of Winter Garden, Gotha Rural Settlement, the West Orange Healthcare District (WOHD), and the FHWO. Supporting agencies include Orange County, the Florida Department of Transportation, MetroPlan Orlando, Florida Department of Health – Orange County, West Orange Chamber of Commerce, Bike/Walk Central Florida and the City of Apopka among others.

To fund the initiative, the Foundation for a Healthier West Orange and HWOTC have been entrusted with $5.5M from the West Orange Healthcare District to support the mission. The HWOTC Steering Committee will determine the best use of the funds, accelerating the implementation of projects that support walking, cycling, and wellness activities within the communities while improving multi-modal safety. The $5.5M grant also serves as seed money to attract additional investments in the region’s trails and enhance current and future trail projects.

“Trails are essential for the health and wellness of the community, now and into the future,” said Lesa Boettcher, FHWO chief operating officer and HWOTC executive committee member. “The Foundation is dedicated to providing support for trail development, connections and engagement opportunities through the HWOTC that support a healthy community.”

“With the Foundation’s grant plus additional funding or grants from other sources, West Orange can become one of the most trail-friendly regions in the nation,” continued Boettcher.

On Thursday, Feb. 10, the City of Winter Garden passed a resolution of support of Healthy West Orange Trails Connection. Similar resolutions of support are on the agendas of the City of Ocoee and the Town of Oakland later this month and the Town of Windermere in March. The Gotha Rural Settlement Association, MetroPlan Orlando and Orange County Parks & Recreation Division have also submitted letters of support and participation.

“The trail system has been a vital component of our City’s health and wellness,” said Jon C. Williams, city manager, City of Winter Garden. “We are excited to join the other partnering agencies in activating as well as expanding the trail system within Winter Garden and throughout West Orange County.”


About the Foundation for a Healthier West OrangeAn independent, 501(c)3 organization, the Foundation for a Healthier West Orange inspires healthy behaviors, champions healthy programs, unites like-minded health organizations, encourages healthy community decisions, and invests in residents’ health and wellbeing.

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About the author

Meaghan Branham

Meaghan Branham is the managing editor for i4 Business, where she oversees the company’s digital media strategy, handles client relationship marketing for the print and digital magazines, and serves as one of the publication’s lead writers. A native of Brevard County, she splits her time between Central Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.

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