A Masterplan to Nowhere

Guest Columnist – Charley Williams

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

A Masterplan to Nowhere

One week ago, the Winter Park City Commission voted 3-2 to move forward with the sale of a gateway property contiguous to one of the city’s benchmark parks: MLK Park, future site of the new Library/Events Center complex. The 1.5 acre parcel, known as the Bowling Alley property, could have become a functional green space entranceway to our city. But a gateway argument did not capture this Commission’s imagination.

Illustration Courtesy of Michael Planning

Citizens are now left with serious questions about how all our expensive studies, workshops and summary reports can come together to form a cohesive plan for parks, ball fields, green space, partnerships, trails and connectivity, supported with the necessary implementation budget.

Our Parks Masterplan (2008 Wade-Trim) is now 10 years out of date. This is the document which should be guiding our next steps, not only with current decisions surrounding MLK Park, but all our future parks discussions. First things first.  Let’s hope the City Commission adopts a budget for this badly needed roadmap (estimate: $120,000) and expedites implementation. We are coming late to this party.

If you are not familiar with the 2008 Parks Masterplan, I invite you to take a look: Scroll down to the very bottom of the page:

Other questions which merit attention: Will Winter Park have a “Great Park” one day? Where is that plan?  What is the vision? What green space parcels has the City acquired in the past 2 years? 4 years? 6 years? Are we keeping pace with need and more importantly, with our required 10 acres of park space/per 1,000 resident formula, now that our population has reached 30,000?

The 2008 Parks Masterplan states that “seventy-nine (79) acres of additional parkland are required by 2028 (note: that’s in 10 years) to meet existing and projected demand for parks and recreational facilities” (Recommendation 3.1).

Where will this new park land come from? At what price?

According to Wade-Trim, “The estimated cost to meet projected demand for parkland by 2028 is $41.3 million. This would require approximately $13.1 million of land acquisition every 5 years, or approximately $2.6 million annually.” (Section 7.2, Estimated Costs Associated with Projected Demand)

The report also highlights an 8 multi-purpose playing field deficit for our children by 2028. (Recommended Action 3.4)

And let’s not forget this recommendation. “City of Winter Park Parks and Recreation Masterplan should be updated at least every 5 years to reflect any shift in development trends and desires of the community.” (Recommended Action Step 3.5)

It would appear that we are making decisions in a vacuum. The budget for the MLK Park future usage exercise with GAI consultants is in the range of $50,000 in CRA monies. Yet there is apparently no cross-reference with our own Winter Park Parks Masterplan needs and capacity issues, because it is 10 years out of date.

Interesting as well, our Winter Park Vision plan was submitted on June 9, 2016, and has been sitting on a shelf for the past year. Why pay $200,000 for a plan we are not going to fund or implement? Are these exercises meant to be moot?

Said the Cheshire Cat to Alice, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
From ‘Alice in Wonderland’
By Charles Lutwidge Dodgson writing under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.

Charley Williams provides the marketing for a local civil engineering firm working on such infrastructure projects as Sunrail, Wekiva Parkway, I-4 and the new South Terminal at Orlando International Airport. He has been a Winter Park resident for twelve years. 

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    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. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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18 replies
  1. Under Parked says:

    The formula of 1 acre of park per 100 residents is woefully inadequate for a city such as Winter Park, given the amount of traffic, visitors, and businesses in the city. That’s really a formula for an average town, not Winter Park.

    The correct formula for Winter Park is 1 acre of park per 100 residents, PLUS 1 acre of park per 1,000 annual visitors, PLUS 1 acre of park per 10,000 annual cars on the roads, PLUS 1 acre of park per 1,000 square feet of commercial building rising above the first floor, PLUS 1 acre of park per 1,000 sq. ft. of parking garage, PLUS 1 acre of park per every half mile of four-lane road, PLUS 1 acre of park per every 0.001 red light camera, PLUS 1 acre of park per number of ordinances on the books in excess of the average number of ordinances on the books for Florida cities the same size as Winter Park, PLUS 1 acre of park for each signature on a citizens initiative petition that was dishonored by the city, PLUS 1 acre of park for every 5 minutes a resident is stuck in traffic, PLUS an additional 1 acre of park every time the average resident’s property taxes increase, PLUS 1 acre of park for every tax dollar wasted, PLUS 1 acre of park for every burglary, PLUS 1 acre of park for every lie everyone in Winter Park government tells the residents about anything.

    This would solve, not only the park deficit, but virtually every other problem in Winter Park as well.

  2. Suzanne Musashe says:

    It appears that Winter Park is going away from its roots and climbing on the bandwagon of large commercial buildings and concrete pavement. With a city that has I-Drive not far away, you would think we would want to stay as far away from that concept as possible. We want big trees, parks and recreation for our families and next generation. Not concrete and multiple large commercial buildings.

  3. Beth Hall says:

    Charley, you make such valid points here. Thank you.

    At nine years old the 2008 Wade-Trim master plan for parks is quite outdated. Notably, even the names of two of the parks (Lake Island and Fleet Peeples) have changed entirely. What’s more, the City’s subsequent Strategic Plan for Parks 2009-2014 doesn’t make mention of MLK Park. Kraft Azalea, Mead Gardens, Central Park, and the former “Fleet Peeples Park” are all topics of analysis and planning in the document. Not so MLK Park.

    That 3 of our 5 city commissioners feel comfortable disposing of a 1.5-acre parcel of vacant land, contiguous to an existing park in the absence of a cohesive & current parks master plan strikes me as extravagantly premature. This is especially true where suitable 1.5 acre parcels within the city are not just on the endangered list, they’re extinct. (1.5-acre city owned parcels, adjacent to existing parkland? They’re the stuff of dreams!)

    Not only that, at last night’s new library confab at the civic center with Sir David Adjaye, I asked one of the Hunton Brady architects whether Sir David was aware that the city was taking steps to divest itself of a parcel of land contiguous to the park, directly south of the new library site. I asked her whether the land might have meaning to him in terms of a more scenic entry to the library from Fairbanks via Harper or in terms of a vista from the top floor of the library. She was like a deer caught in the headlights. I mean, thirty million dollars is a lot of money. I think we need to get the whole thing right. Down to the very last detail.

    It would appear that the commission is making that decision for Sir David. If he has not been consulted, I hope he will be. If he’s not, there’s an excellent chance there will be something like a brand new Pep Boys or an AutoZone as you make a right off Fairbanks to head to the new library and events center. A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

    • No SIr E Bob says:

      Let’s all remember that the title “Sir” is one bestowed by a foreign monarch. To Winter Park residents, there is no obligation to use the foreign political perk in front of the vendor’s given name. And doing so only furthers the agenda of the attention distracters.

      Instead, residents should be asking, why is Leary endorsing a foreigner to design the proposed library? He couldn’t find an American to do the job? Who believes that?

      No sir. Winter Park residents see through the smokescreen of foreign fancy titles. It’s clear Leary wants this to be a foreign library. And he wants us to pay for his folly.

      • Bonnie Jackson says:

        My thoughts exactly! While I love my British friends, we are Americans who shed blood to release the bonds of tyranny and social status nonsense. Alas, I am astounded by all things related to this new library. The cost, the choice of architect, and no doubt I will abhore the artsy fartsy design that will emerge from my hard earned money. Don’t give me fashionable architects or statistical norms. Just give me places for children to play, places to sit and read, and plenty of shady green space to contemplate the beauty of our Blessed lives in this town of roughly 28,000. .

      • The Basket says:

        Let me get this straight. Winter Park just hired a foreign architect, who was recently knighted by an unelected foreign monarch whose ancestors used to conduct public beheadings?

        What’s wrong with this picture?

        (This comment is In memory of Henry VIII’s two beheaded wives.)

      • Cigar says:

        Gonna be hard for Leary to win re-election in Winter Park with the theme, “Make Great Britain Great Again.”

        “It’s not the steak – it’s the sizzle.”

        And that may be what Leary is up to. Distract residents from the building details (costs, profits, whose pockets the $30 million will fall into). Just look at the maestro.

        The problem Leary will have is that Winter Park isn’t Orlando. There are a lot of smart people in Winter Park who will do the numbers. As Abe Lincoln might have said, “You can’t fool all the people all the time.”

        At an art gallery they can put a $10,000 price tag on a piece of canvas that looked like your dog might have done it with his paws. And someone might buy it after hearing a story about the “magnificent artist” who painted it. “Why he’s in ALL the best galleries…” And other such hype.

        If Sir “Let-Me-Tell-You-Why-You-Should-Buy” brings back a design for a building that should cost no more than $5 million, $10 million, or $20 million to build and furnish, Winter Park voters will assume, rightly or wrongly, that at least some of the excessive builder profits (the difference between the $30 million price tag and reasonable costs) will wind up in Leary’s pocket.

        Because it’s the “steak” voters, not the “sizzle” voters, who will show up to vote in 2018. All the “sizzle” folks got their fix at the polls in 2016 when the bond was approved, and they won’t be back.

        Here’s a video of one of the traveling knight’s libraries in London. They call them “idea stores” there. Voters, seeing this might say, understandably, “We’ve been had.”


        • Disappointed says:

          Thanks Cigar. I watched the video link you provided.

          Seriously? That’s an example of what we’ll be paying $30 million for?

          If I wanted a new place to read, with tinted windows, and curvy furniture, I could buy a luxurious 2017 Winnebago on the internet for about $100K.

          And I could park it in the old library parking lot, the MLK Park parking lot, or wherever I darn well pleased.

          Winter Park could issue every resident a pair of tinted sunglasses and a lap desk for much less. And it would provide infinitely more value, than what I would describe as “Beware of what you throw in the garbage. It could come back as the windows and the furniture in the new Winter Park Library!”

          I know, I know what some of you are saying. He’s from London and he’s here to help. No thanks. I’m not impressed with his designs. The Beatles he is not. And I hope Leary sent him home before he could give us any more of his “brilliant ideas.”

      • Stop Whining! says:

        You don’t realize how good you’ve got it with Leary as mayor. He sends you a letter in the City newsletter once a quarter. Comes in the mail right to your door! Not everyone sends you a letter in the mail 4 times a year. Leary does! And you got a good deal with Leary for the new library.

        The deal is: you give Leary your $30 million. Then, Leary and his two sidekicks on the City Commission will decide 1) Where the new library will be located, 2) Approve what it will look like, and 3) Decide who will build it and get your $30 million. All without your approval.

        That’s a pretty good deal, isn’t it?

        You don’t have to go to all the trouble of scratching your head, deciding these things. Leary takes care of all of it for you!

        And he does it out of the generosity of his own heart.

        As for the architect from England, you should thank your lucky stars, that Leary picked that guy to design the new library. You have no idea how Winter Park will be the envy of every town in Florida once the green and blue tinted windows are in place. Central Florida kids using the library will be superior to their peers in that they will be able to sit and read a book, one page illuminated with the blue light from one window, and the opposite page colored by yellow light coming from the adjacent window. They won’t have to see the eye doctor after visiting the library. That’s a conspiracy theory. They might be able to see better!

        That’s worth $30 million, people. And if that’s not enough, the bookshelves shaped like a question mark close enough to the opposite bookcases so people bump into one another will build community. How often can you actually do “the bump” with someone in the old library? That’s worth $30 million.

        You can trust Leary to put your $30 million you give him to good use. And stop with that, “Good for who?” business. Leary has an Irish name and you should vote for him because the election will be around St. Patrick’s Day and it’s the right thing to do.

  4. Pamela Peters says:

    Thank you for your response Charley. Would you consider serving on the city commission? We need respresentation that assures green space and implementation of updated plans that enhance our quality of life with parks, walking space, bike trails and playing fields.

    • anonymous says:

      I agree, we need a person like Charley on the commission. seems like 3 of the 5 current members do not have the right attitude to serve the citizens of Winter Park.

  5. David Baker says:

    Thanks, Charley, for an excellent summary of what has led this Commission in their negligent mishandling of taxpayer dollars: having no vision, and/or neglecting to remember the strategic vision that was, however out of date. This decision, a clear message that these individuals value acquisition of capital and tax revenues over adding valuable parkland, is an embarrassment to our community, an insult to our children, and a very local example of the recent political direction of the country. Very sad.

  6. Forest Gray Michael says:

    Charley, excellent analysis of our current parks situation. I concur with your points which are representative of our stated parks and recreational needs. So why doesn’t our Mayor lead in the creation of a more meaningful park at this location – doubling as a beautiful gateway to the Central Business District for all?

    Imagination and vision are closely aligned and in this case, to most, the location on the constricted and messy Fairbanks corridor requires loads of both. So isn’t that is why we just had a visioning exercise? How about turning this messy area into something we can be proud of. I was riding along Park Avenue last weekend and was simply astounded by the beauty of the place, and Central Park and enjoyed seeing so many people enjoying themselves – stunning! Why can’t we make this area of town beautiful too?

    Let’s keep our public land and provide more functionality for MLK Park, for YOUTH, for Winter PARK. That requires vision! Do it for the next generations if for nothing else.

    Park expansion at this location is essential for many reasons including: 1) Park Entrance and Drop off area for parents and youth; 2) Overflow parking (Grassed); 3) Added park greenspace with shade trees to provide relief from the congested Fairbanks area, with a green vista into the park.

    And over time, many are suggesting that we beautify Lake Rose, our #1 most recent geological feature (Sinkhole) in town. In time, some of those other landowners might like to sell if the incentive is a fair sales price, and added parkland connecting Fairbanks with MLK, Jr. Park’s active ball fields.

    THANKS again for providing your professional expertise Charley, it is always welcomed and needed in Winter Park, and also for including my 3 minute comment sketch for the Commission and Mayor. I really can’t believe the Parks Advisory Board and citizens were not included in this poor decision for the Notice of Disposal – no excuses are acceptable for that – what an unnecessary waste of solid civic potential.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have a great deal of respect for Charley Williams. He echoes voices from decades ago, like former WP City Manager Jim Harris and Parks Manager Jay Blanchard who both left the city to work for Orange County over 40 years ago, though both never lost their love for WP. With inaction on park planning and implementation, coupled with more intense residential development such as “McMansions, we are losing the “Park” in Winter Park. T.Ackert

  8. Sally Flynn says:

    From Sally Flynn:

    The news release from Osceola County is perfect advice for our City Commission to follow. The key thoughts are: CITIZEN FEEDBACK and IMPROVING QUALITY OF LIFE. Winter Park would be saving money AND improving participation by piggy backing on Osceola’s example to enhance our plan for a Parks Master Plan.

    Sally Flynn


    Osceola County Community Outreach/Public Information Office




    May 26, 2017

    Osceola County Seeks Input on Parks Master Plan
    Osceola County, Florida – Osceola County is seeking citizen feedback for its Parks Master Plan, which will provide policy direction and address funding priorities as leaders examine the areas where parks and recreation spaces should be provided for residents.

    “The mission of Osceola County Parks is to promote quality-of-life experiences that will enhance the health and well-being of our residents and visitors; and, as our population continues to grow, the County is working to update its Parks Master Plan,” said Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington. “Improving our quality of life is a key factor in moving Osceola forward and building an even better county for everyone.”

    A critical component in creating a great plan is gathering input from residents about parks and recreation opportunities in the County. There are two efforts underway so the public can be part of the planning for parks in their community: public meetings and an online survey. Public meetings will take place at various venues in the County to seek comments and input from residents and visitors on priorities they may have for their County parks.

    “The public outreach component of the Parks Master Plan will provide critical information essential to gauging community values, needs and priorities, and demographics to better plan and prioritize investment in Osceola County parks and recreation infrastructure,” Arrington added.

    The County has commissioned a Parks Master Plan Survey as a component of the public outreach process. The survey can be accessed at http://www.osceola.org/agencies-departments/parks/master-plan.stml and through our County Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OsceolaCountyFL), in addition to physical copies being available at the public outreach meetings. Some of the questions from the survey include which parks residents use and what amenities and activities they would enjoy. The County encourages all residents to tell their neighbors, friends, family, and everyone they know to complete the survey and have a say in the future of the County’s parks. The survey will be available until July 2, 2017. Take the Parks Master Plan Survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OsceolaParks.

  9. Pitt Warner says:

    I think our current situation is so good we don’t always appreciate it. Pools, fields, playgrounds, passive and active parks for peoples and dogs, we have it all. But I may be in the minority. If a resident feels strongly about the parks they can run for commission. Let the voters decide. Central Park encroachment was a factor in one election. Dog park was a factor in another. A good candidate will have a vision, a budget and a way to get the funds to pay for the vision.

  10. Nora French says:

    I though the idea of purchasing even more of Fairbanks was to beautify the entrance to the city.
    But the closer we get to the city proper on Fairbanks it seems I am constantly reminded to think/feel these quotes from our 2016 Nobel Prize winner, Bob Dylan (who remastered Joanie Mitchell’s lyrics):

    Don’t it always go to show
    You never know what you got till it’s gone?
    They paved paradise, they put up a parking lot
    They took all the trees, they put them in a tree museum
    They charged the people a dollar and a half just to see them
    Don’t it always go to show
    You never know what you got till it’s gone?

    And the words of our FL novelist, Marjorie K. Rawlings:

    “Who owns Cross Creek? The red-birds, I think, more than I, for they will have their nests even in the face of delinquent mortgages..It seems to me that the earth may be borrowed, but not bought. It may be used, but not owned. It gives itself in response to love and tending, offers its sesonal flowering and fruiting. But we are tenants and not possessors, lovers, and not masters. Cross Creek belongs to the wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time…”

    Thanks to all above who wrote remarks showing they have these ideas in their souls.


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