Candyland Park

Candyland Park Sign 2020
Candyland Park Sign 2020

Candyland Park is a recreational complex in the center of one of Longwood’s older residential areas. The land was part of John Neill Searcy‘s original homestead grant. It was named as a companion park to Longwood’s former Peppermint Park. The property that became Candyland, which abuts the Longwood Cemetery (dating back to the 1880s) came about in the early 70s.

The Skylark subdivision was platted in 1972. It began construction in 1973, north of the Longdale neighborhood. The City of Longwood required that 5% of the land be set aside for recreation. And viola… someone decided that Candyland was as good a name as any for Longwood’s second set of baseball fields and tennis courts!

And what about Peppermint Park? Well first of all… where is Peppermint Park? It was located at the corner of Milwee and Church, where the police station is located today.

And that whole thing is kind of a mess. You see the city had very underwhelming facilities for a booming suburb, including a cramped police station and a fire station whose ladder truck would not even fit inside the building (so they cut a hole in the wall for the ladder to stick out). So they were desperate for upgrades and willing to go into debt to make it happen.

So they decided to convert the popular park into a new police station in 1985. They broke ground on June 19, 1986; however, they forgot to check the deed first. Former mayor Steven Uskert first discovered a concerning clause and alerted the city commission.

The city acquired the property in 1938 from the Christ Episcopal Church (next door); however, the church stipulated in the deed that it had to be used for a park! If it was used for a different purpose, the property would revert back to church ownership.

The Episcopal diocese filed a lawsuit against the City and threatened to halt work on the police station that had already broken ground. It was all a huge mess. In the end, the city agreed to pay the church $125,000 to settle the whole thing out of court. They finished dismantling the park and constructing the $770,000 police station.