Email ThisTweet ThisShare This
Anne Mooney / May 22, 2015 / Add your Comments
       
For more than a year, the Historic Preservation Board (HPB) has worked to craft an Historic Preservation Ordinance that would be a big step on the city’s path to becoming a “Certified Local Government” (CLG). CLG status would qualify the City for state and federal funds to protect and promote the City’s historic assets.

HPB & Ad Hoc Committee Lead Parallel Lives

During the same time frame, an ad hoc committee of Winter Park citizens with diverse points of view formed to work toward a consensus on Historic Preservation. Committee members were Attorney Frank Hamner, Casa Feliz Director Betsy Owens, Attorney and Developer Dykes Everett, Architect and President of Mead Botanical Gardens, Inc., Jeffrey Blydenburg, Real Estate Broker Scott Hillman and Landscape Architect Stephen Pategas. Together they sought to understand Winter Park’s current regulations, the inventory of historic structures, trends regarding those assets and how Winter Park compares in these respects with other Florida cities.

  HPB Includes Committee Suggestions in Draft Ordinance

Early this year, the ad hoc committee offered their suggestions to the HPB.  Although the HPB did not incorporate all the committee’s suggestions, they did adopt many of the recommended changes and, in February 2015, HPB voted unanimously to approve the draft ordinance. 

The next step in the process was to present the draft ordinance to the citizens and receive their input. Two meetings – morning and evening --were scheduled Thursday, May 7, at the Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center.

Facebook Lights Up

Once the meetings were announced, the internet lit up. On Wednesday, April 29, Peter Weldon sent a “Winter Park Perspective” blast email urging residents in bold type to “Take Action to Protect Your Rights.”

“Small Group of Extremists”

“This proposal is being promoted by the Winter Park anti-development lobby,” wrote Weldon, “a small group seeking to impose their values without regard to your values . . . . We cannot let a small group of extremists limit our freedoms or put our equity at risk.”

“First Step Down the Slippery Slope . . .”

And with that, they were off and running. The lively debate that began on the internet spilled into the Welcome Center on the morning of May 7. The first speaker to take the podium was Winter Park resident Brian Thomas, who called the draft ordinance “The first step down the slippery slope.”

Peter Weldon spoke next to express his support for historic designation of individual properties, explaining that his opposition was to the designation of historic districts.

Frank Hamner: “Property Rights Guy”

Frank Hamner, a member of the ad hoc citizens’ committee, rose to explain that the focus of his group was on the educational value of their effort. He identified himself as “a property rights guy,” but said he believed there are historic assets in Winter Park that do need to be preserved. 

WP Ordinance Weakest in FL


Casa Feliz Executive Director Betsy Owens, also a member of the ad hoc committee, pointed out there are fewer than 10 districts in Winter Park that would qualify for historic designation. She went on to compare Winter Park’s proposed ordinance with those of other Florida Cities, noting that the proposed ordinance would lift Winter Park from having the weakest ordinance in the state to being “simply among the weakest.”

Commissioners Resist Move to Change HPB

Less than a week later, at the May 11 City Commission meeting, Historic Preservation was again at the forefront. Mayor Steve Leary brought forth nominations for all the boards that had members rotating off. Three of those nominations were for the Historic Preservation Board. Former Orange County Commissioner Bill Segal and Winter Park architect Phil Kean were nominated for regular board seats, and Winter Park resident Laura Armstrong was nominated as alternate. 

Commissioner Tom McMacken requested that all board appointments be approved except for the Historic Preservation Board. The Commission voted 3 to 2 to approve the other board appointments and to discuss the HPB nominations separately. Mayor Leary and Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel cast the dissenting votes.

McMacken Urges: Delay HPB Appointments

McMacken then requested that the Commission delay any appointments to the HPB until the proposed ordinance had been brought before the Commission and had been voted either up or down. “I just hate to change pitchers at the bottom of the ninth inning,” said McMacken. “Putting new people on there now sets the dial back, and I don’t want to see [the ordinance] delayed any further.”

A lively discussion ensued in which the Mayor said, based on public comments at the May 7 meetings, he thought perhaps the ordinance should not move forward. Leary argued that the two nominees, Kean and Segal, would contribute to the process.

Commissioners: Don’t Derail a Year’s Work

Commissioners McMacken and Carolyn Cooper emphasized that their objections to the appointments had nothing to do with the appointees. They simply wanted the HPB to have the chance to bring more than a year’s work on the ordinance to a conclusion. 

McMacken and Cooper argued that one important component of the proposed ordinance has to do with specific criteria for board composition. Compliance with board composition criteria set by state and federal agencies would be necessary for Winter Park to achieve CLG status. Preserving the present composition of the board, even if the number is reduced from 7 to 5, would avoid the possibility of appointing someone who might not fit the revised criteria.

Phil Kean and Bill Segal Turned Down

At the end of the day, the Commissioners voted separately on each of the three nominees. Phil Kean and Bill Segal were voted down, 3 to 2, with Leary and Sprinkel again casting dissenting votes.

Laura Armstrong Appointed to HPB

In a surprise turn, Commissioner Greg Seidel voted in favor of the alternate candidate, Laura Armstrong, whose qualification was that she had once placed her home on the historic register. So Ms. Armstrong took a full board seat, leaving one vacant full board seat and one vacant alternate seat. 

Asked why he had voted for Ms. Armstrong, Commissioner Seidel said that she was the only candidate who had mentioned historic preservation on her application.

Back to Facebook

Once again, the internet lit up. Phil Kean and Bill Segal both posted their disappointments on Facebook. Kean wrote in his post,“If you are a citizen of Winter Park, please reach out to the three commissioners that voted me not qualified and let them know that I would make a great board member. They are Carolyn Cooper, Greg Seidel and Tom McMacken. MayorSteveLeary andSarah Sprinkelsupported me. I want to thank you in advance for your help in this.” 

Bill Segal had a somewhat more philosophical view on the matter, though he did acknowledge that he was disappointed. He wrote on Facebook, “. . .just remember life is a two way street, everything doesn't have to be all one way or the other, and when you find yourself so passionate about an issue that is not life or death, often it is a good time to listen to new voices, and new ideas. Sounds like the same people have been battling over the same stuff for far too long.” 

Steve Leary, still insisting that the vote was ‘about the people’, posted on May 12: “I do not believe it productive to criticize my fellow commission members or theorize on their rationale for voting against Phil and Bill. Rather, I am hopeful that Commissioner(s) Seidel, McMacken, and/or Cooper will reconsider Mr. Kean and Mr. Segal for appointment to the HPB.” 

And perhaps they will reconsider – after the ordinance has come before the Winter Park City Commission and has either passed or failed.

Add your Comments 



You Depend on the Voice for In-Depth News.
We Depend on Readers Like You to Support Our Full Time Reporting.


Please Contribute / Your Support Funds WPV Video & News Research
Winter Park Voice news & video coverage promotes transparency at City Hall. Winter Park Voice readers are able to literally see policy being made and access documents & background reporting that enhance their understanding of the forces that shape our community.

Your Contribution is Applied Where It Matters Most
Virtually all funding received by the Voice is used to support the actual day-to-day cost of reporting on Winter Park policies and issues.

Click Here to Contribute >>

  
site search by freefind
The Winter Park Voice
Click to Join the Facebook Group
About the  Editor


Anne Mooney, Editor, Winter Park Voice

Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine . . .

Read more >>

WPV Columnists

Jeffry R. Jontz
YES, We Need a New Library
Editor’s note: Jeffry Jontz, President of the Winter Park Public Library Association, Inc., has represented the Library Trustees on the Library Task Force, which has been studying the future of the Winter Park Public Library (WPPL) for the past year. The Task Force is preparing to make their recommendations to the City Commission next month. At that time...
Read More >>

Sally Flynn
Political Attacks Anger WP.
Like many other citizens of our city, I am outraged at Steve Leary's conduct and his personal attack on his opponent -- calling her a racist and taking out of context her use of the historically correct term "Negro Town." I cannot sit back and say nothing about the way Leary's campaign has turned this mayoral race into a disgrace.
Read More >>


Jack Miles
Open Letter to Mayor and Commissioners Re: The Blueprint for Development in Winter Park.
"Thirteen years ago, Nancy and I had our first dinner on Park Avenue. Interestingly, our server also worked as an appraiser. When I asked her why we should buy a home in Winter Park vs. somewhere else, she was quick and clear. This is a great community with good schools . . . Turns out she gave us good advice. We quickly discovered that the quality of life we enjoy here is the result of the years of effort that went into developing and refining our Comprehensive Plan . . .
"
Read More >>

Gilman Wheeler
The Transformation of Winter Park: We Are All Responsible.
"Winter Park is rapidly being transformed into just another homogenized American city, and we are all responsible.
We now have a mangled tree canopy imposed upon us by our own newly formed Utilities-based Forestry Department . . .
We now have a skyline increasingly dominated by multi-story office buildings, condominiums, and other high density structures; and we have endorsed this development . . .  
"
Read More >>

Rick Swisher
Capen House: Some things are just worth saving. Winter Park’s unique charm is a real privilege that carries with it a certain responsibility.
"In the United States . . . we build for decades, with the mind-set that tearing down buildings is an acceptable practice if it’s necessary to achieve the best value for your dollar . . . Well, that’s not okay in my book. You know, some things are just worth saving, even if it hurts . . . how could the demolition of this piece of architecture even be considered? Well it has, and it is, and it appears that it may be taken from us. So-be-it. I shouldn’t whine about it, but I really don’t like it. Do you? . . .  
"
Read More >>

Jack Miles
Should WP Historic Preservation Policy Depend on Citizens Rising Up to Rescue Threatened Landmarks?
"Attending a Winter Park Commission meeting is always a treat and, similar to Broadway shows, some are comedies, some dramas; this past Monday’s commission meeting was unfortunately a tragedy. It was obvious from the opening that the commissioners were moved, troubled and perhaps annoyed by the community reaction to John and Betsy Pokorny (aka 520 N. INTERLACHEN, LLC) plans to demolish the Capen . . .  
"
Read More >>

Linda Kulmann
James Capen: The Man Behind the House at 520 N. Interlachen Avenue. His Home is Part of Our History.
"Fortunately for our citizens, early Winter Park resident James Seymour Capen was a dreamer, a visionary and a leader. When his close friend and city founder Loring Chase introduced him to Winter Park, Capen envisioned the possibilities this little town could hold for him. He returned to Illinois, closed his business, moved to Winter Park in October of 1884 and built his home on Interlachen Avenue the following year. He gambled on a better life and in turn, lived an interesting . . .  
"
Read More >>

Arthur Blumenthal
In Praise Of The Capen House. What happens to the historic bricks and boards of our city happens also in the hearts of our citizens.
"I speak for many Winter Park citizens who are stunned to learn that one of our historic treasures is about to be bulldozed. The Capen House, built in 1885, with its elegant lines and sweeping yard---will vanish in a matter of weeks. Yes, vanish, even after being placed on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places in 2011 . . .  
"
Read More >>

John Skolfield
The Yards, Gardens & Well-Used Porches on Our Historic Westside Will Always Matter.
"For more than a century, the west side of Winter Park has been a neighborhood of small, working-class homes. It's a part of town where people talk across the back fence and children ride their bikes in the streets and run in and out of the neighbors' houses . . . a place where people actually sit in those rocking chairs on the front porch to relax after a day's work. Recently, however, an effort has emerged to drastically alter this . . .  
"
Read More >>

Sara Whiting
Enlarging Central Park: A New Chance to Enhance the Green, Vibrant Center of Our City Life.
"I ask you, dear reader -- what visual comes to mind when you think of your town of Winter Park? To me, it's our Central Park. I visualize the verdant expanse of grass, flowering bushes, and moss-covered oak trees shading the fountains, the benches, and the people. People sitting and talking. People pushing strollers . . . Central Park is the nucleus of our town .
 . ."
Read More >>

Owen Beitsch
Another Look at Ravaudage: Balancing the Costs and the Benefits.
"On Tuesday morning of this week, the Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) of Winter Park met to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of approving a Community Development District (CDD) . . . Given the visibility and scale of this project, I believe it is worthwhile to amplify certain remarks I made on the record in the course of the normal EDAB meeting .
 . ."
Read More >>

Jack Miles
Developers Should Not Be Financed by Taxpayers
"Development should be able to stand on its own and if planned and done well benefits all. The City of Winter Park has no business being a “partner” in development when the potential for benefit is to the developer and .
 . ."
Read More >>

Brian McGratty
The Essence of Winter Park for Every Resident
"The last few weeks have given me the opportunity to pause and reflect on everything that Winter Park has to offer its residents, visitors and businesses. Why do we call Winter Park home? What keeps us here? The obvious answer .
 . ."
Read More >>

Geri Throne
Do City Leaders Understand that “Quality of Life” is the Essence of Winter Park?
"The Winter Park YMCA's anticipated triumph at City Hall this Monday reveals more than the political influence of that organization. It exposes a startling shift in our city leaders' vision for Winter Park's future .
 . ."Read More >>




Phil Eschbach
Tree Ordinance Changes Challenge Our Values
"We are at a turning point with regard to the new tree ordinance being proposed. It should be posted online at the city’s site. Marc Hagle’s recent piece on this subject is spot on. Basically the new ordinance that replaces the old one will drastically change in one vital respect . . .”
 
Read More >>


Marc Hagle
Tree Preservation -- Protecting a Precious Resource
"Some years ago I was asked to be the chairman of a sub-committee that would be responsible for writing Winter Park's Tree Preservation Ordinance. The ordinance that's presently on the books is a product of the subcommittee I chaired
 . . .”
 
Read More >>



Steve Goldman
Making Room for All Perspectives, Civility & Respect
"Winter Park has always been blessed with an abundance of beautiful lakes, beautiful trees, and beautiful people. Unfortunately, there is one commodity which is not so abundant – reliable unbiased information 
. . .”
 
Read More >>