Community Celebrates Unity Corner Groundbreaking

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Winter Park leaders gathered on the morning of Jan. 15 to break ground on a community space that was inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Located by the intersection of Denning Drive and Morse Boulevard, Unity Corner was made possible through the cooperation of City Hall and the residents of Hannibal Square.

“It started with advocacy by citizens, action by commissioners, and acknowledgement of this space,” said MLK Naming Task Force Chair Carolyn Fennell. She also noted the inspiration for the Dr. King memorial, titled Ripple, that will be at the center of Unity Corner. “This will be a reflection that, just as a single drop of water creates a ripple, so too does Dr. King’s influence.”

The road to Unity Corner began with a 2012 naming task force, formed by the city to identify opportunities to honor the memory of Dr. King. The former Lake Island Park was renamed for the civil rights leader and will now house the community space at its northeast corner.

Carolyn Fennell, who chaired the city’s MLK Naming Task Force, speaks during the Jan. 15 groundbreaking event.

Fennell, who is also the former vice president of community relations for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, was among the community leaders to speak before the ceremonial dirt toss. The city expects the space to be completed by the end of the year.

Unity Corner was designed by landscape architecture firm Dix.Hite + Partners, Inc. and artist Andrew Luy. The memorial will consist of a 9-foot bronze statue of Dr. King that will be set inside a concentric pattern of stone benches. A surrounding memory wall will display quotes from Dr. King, and the names of the Black families who originally resided on the property before being displaced in the 1950’s through eminent domain.

“The design of the memorial was truly a collaborative process,” said Luy. “A testament to teamwork, inclusion, and that every voice counts.”

Renderings show the composition of the memorial with the centerpiece bronze statue, stone benches, and the surrounding memory wall.
The tier-stepped landscaping around the memorial will mimic the ripple effect that originates with the statue of Dr. King.
In his remarks, Mayor Phil Anderson referred to Unity Corner as “a physical reminder of the combined hope of reaching the future that Dr. King envisioned.”
Commissioners Todd Weaver, Kris Cruzada, and Vice Mayor Sheila DeCiccio were in attendance.
Hannibal Square community leader Mary Daniels was part of the MLK Naming Task Force and among the residents who helped shape the memorial through their feedback. During her remarks, she cited quotes from Dr. King, including: “The time is always right to do what is right.”
As part of his research for the memorial, artist Andrew Luy visited the future site of Unity Corner. “I noticed something had hit the surface of the water and the ripples had echoed outward,” he said. “That was my moment of clarity and the basis for the grand design.”
Speakers, commissioners, and members of the community participate the groundbreaking dirt toss. Construction is expected to begin in the coming months and conclude before the end of the year.
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