Anne Mooney

Entries by Anne Mooney

Budget Blows a Hole in the Canopy

Project Still Doesn’t Fit the Budget

Budget Blows a Hole in the Canopy

News Flash

A small item on the City Manager’s Report at the January 14 Commission meeting stated, “Library Design: Project pricing came back on design development drawings and the project is over budget.”

Getting the Project Back to the Level It Should Be

Commissioner Greg Seidel asked City Manager Randy Knight to elaborate. “Staff continues to work with the design team,” said Knight, “trying to bring the project in on the budget the Commission’s adopted. . . . Once we get the project to the level it should be,” Knight said, “I’ll be bringing [the design] back to the City Commission . . . along with some add-alt opportunities” so the Commission can decide if they will try to fund those and, if so, how.

Should We Wait to Demolish the Murrah Civic Center?

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper attempted to make a motion to delay demolition of the Rachel Murrah Civic Center and removal of surrounding trees until the Commission has a clearer idea of how they are moving forward with the Canopy project. Cooper was, however, ruled out of order by Mayor Steve Leary because, he said, the item was not on the agenda as an action item and had not been publicly noticed.

‘Small Group of Citizens Increased Costs’

Leary went on to state, “The only increased cost to taxpayers so far has been the lawsuit brought against the taxpayers and the voters in the city by a small group. That has cost us in legal bills; that has cost us in delays. So, additional monies that must be spent to move this forward, as of today, have not been due to overages because we’re still working through the budget.”

Citizens Sought to Prevent Library Location in MLK Park

Leary was referring to the Save Our Library WP PAC’s 2016 petition drive to prevent the new library from being located in Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Park. The PAC gathered 2,300 voters’ signatures in what was supposed to be a Citizens’ Initiative, which has no deadline. The City Clerk declared the petitions “insufficient,” insisting they constituted “reconsideration of a referendum,” for which the deadline had passed. The court upheld the City, and the library location was never put to a vote. According to the City Manager, the lawsuit cost the City $32,878 – slightly less than it would have cost to put the matter of location to a vote of the people.

Bond Validation Suit – ‘A Wise Investment’

The City also spent $168,881 on a Bond Validation Suit to protect the City from future legal challenge regarding the bond issue. The successful Bond Validation Suit had the added advantage of allowing the bonds to be sold at a more favorable rate. According to an attorney who was close to the situation, who asked not to be identified, “Any expenditures associated with the bond validation will be recovered over the life of the bonds and represents a wise investment on the part of the City.”

So, What Do We Know Now about Projected Costs for the Canopy?

A November 2018 email from City Clerk Cindy Bonham summarizes spending and funding sources on the Library-Event Center as of September 30, 2018.

On Nov 9, 2018, at 2:13 PM, Cindy Bonham <CBonham@cityofwinterpark.org> wrote:

Current Cost Projections

 


In a January 16 email to the Voice, City Manager Knight sent the most current figures available at that date which, he cautioned, are nowhere near final. “At the stage this spreadsheet was developed the base project would be 12.5 percent above budget,” he wrote. The “base project” he refers to is the library-event center without a single one of the add alternates – including the porte cochere at the entrance.

“Once the design team has managed to bring the cost of the base project to within budget,” wrote Knight, “we will present the Commission a list of add alternates that we think they may wish to consider along with potential ways to fund those alternates.”

Project Status – Only the Numbers Will Change

While Knight’s numbers will definitely change, the information he provided presents a good picture of the shape of the project and where each element now stands.

Is $30 Million Enough?

From these numbers, it would appear the original $30M budget, which was supposed to include a comfortable cushion, barely covers two of the three items on the March 15, 2016 ballot, which called for a library, events center and associated parking structure.

The associated parking structure has morphed into expanded surface parking on and around MLK Park. The library has gone from 50,000 square feet to a little over 34,000 square feet. The event center will be slightly larger than the current Civic Center, estimated at 12,600 square feet.

The enhancements envisioned for the project, such as the porte cochere at the entrance, the exterior amphitheater, the interior raked auditorium and the rooftop venue stand to shoot the budget into the stratosphere, adding between $10 and $14 Million to the cost of a $30 Million project.

The Real Work Begins

To bring this Canopy dream to fruition will take some serious compromise and fundraising of mythic proportion.

Winter Season Opens at CFAM

Brilliant Color, Dark Humor and an Examination of ‘Place’

Winter Season Opens at CFAM

Rollins College Cornell Fine Arts Museum (CFAM) launches its Winter 2019 season today with a thought-provoking exhibit featuring favorites from the permanent collection and the debut of several new acquisitions. The show builds conversations around notions of ‘place’ – the city, places of devotion, landscape, the politics of place and the experience of place beyond the immediate.

What is place?
What is home?
Where do you fit – and how?
This is the essence of “The Place as Metaphor.”

Rococolab – Brilliant Color, Dark Humor

Of particular note is the gallery devoted to “The De la Torre Brothers: Rococolab.” Collaborating artist-brothers Einar and Jamex De la Torre live and work in Ensenada, Mexico and San Diego, California. Their dynamic, baroque-inspired glass work is the product of their bicultural life, which floats freely between Mexico and the U.S.

Though they are widely known in international art circles, this is the De la Torre brothers’ first solo museum exhibition in Florida. Organized by CFAM Curator Gisela Carbonell, the presentation of their work invites consideration of some of the most pressing issues in contemporary culture. Using bright light, vivid color and some very dark humor, the De la Torre brothers’ work speaks a visual language to which contemporary viewers can easily relate.

Bicultural, Bilingual English and Spanish

As you walk into the gallery, the grouping of intricate images waits, like gifts in a box, for you to unpack each one. Open them up and discover inside the beauty, joy, dark humor and scary truths they contain. The exhibit is accompanied by an illustrated booklet, available in the museum store, which is written both in English and in Spanish.

CFAM is located at 1000 Holt Avenue on the Rollins campus. It is open Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free in 2019, courtesy of PNC Financial Services Group. To check hours and special programs, visit the website at Rollins.edu/cfam

The show will be on view from January 17 to May 12, 2019.

Rollins to Get Major Facelift

Residential Capacity Will Double

Rollins to Get Major Facelift

The Rollins campus is about to get some major upgrades. The college unveiled plans to double student dormitory space and provide around 600 additional parking spaces in a new garage at the site of the current surface lot on Fairbanks and Ollie Avenue.

The architectural style of the new buildings will be consistent with the current Rollins style, and the new buildings will be constructed to minimize the appearance of mass – but they are going to be a whole lot bigger.

“We Are Not Growing the College”

In a presentation to the Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Board, Rollins President Grant Cornwell stated that Rollins has no intention of becoming any larger than it is now. “We are not growing the college,” said Cornwell, “we are simply adding residential capacity.” Cornwell added that, in his view, Rollins is ‘where it should be’ and there is no intention to increase its size.

40 Percent of Students Live Off Campus

Cornwell explained that, at present, 40 percent of the student body must reside off campus because of the shortage of student housing. McKean Hall, the current 60-year-old dormitory, has 250 to 275 beds, providing space for only the freshman and sophomore classes.

Student Housing Capacity Will Double

Rollins plans to build 250,000 square feet of new dormitories with approximately 500 beds and rooms for three Resident Advisors in the area immediately surrounding McKean Hall. Students will continue to inhabit McKean Hall until the new dorms are completed. When the new dorms are finished, McKean Hall will be demolished and a large swimming pool and patio will be built in the center courtyard, surrounded by the new dorms. This will enable the college to bring the entire junior class back onto campus.

Goal is to Increase Quality of Student Learning Experience

“Our primary goal is to increase the quality of the student learning experience by bringing them back into campus life,” said Cornwell. “What students learn outside the classroom, living with their peers, going to lectures, athletic events, musical events – and just the very dynamic of campus life – is part of the value that we bring.”

Current Student Housing Out of Date

Secondly, while Rollins is well ranked among liberal arts colleges, it is in what Cornwell described as a fierce competitive market. The current residential housing stock is old and out of date and does not live up to the expectations of students and their parents. “So,” said Cornwell, “we are both serving our mission and competing in a market.”

‘This is One Way for Rollins to be a Better Neighbor’

“The third reason,” said Cornwell, “is also important to us. We think this is a way for Rollins to be better neighbors.” Drawing a chuckle from the audience, Cornwell acknowledged that while Rollins’ 18- to 23-year-old students are all wonderful, they are not always wonderful neighbors. We think we will be a better neighbor to Winter Park if more of our students are brought back into the flow of campus life, Cornwell said.

On Campus Parking Will Be Safer

Cornwell pointed out that the new parking garage will free up spaces in the Sun Trust garage and will reduce the need for students and faculty to cross Fairbanks Avenue on foot. On campus parking should also take a good many student vehicles off the streets of Winter Park.

Construction Project on a Fast Track

Rollins hopes to complete construction and have the new dorms ready for occupancy by the beginning of the 2020 Fall term.

P&Z approved the application unanimously. The project will move forward to the Commission at the second January meeting.

Beards Sprout, Nails Glitter

To Show Support for WPPD Officer in Need

Beards Sprout, Nails Glitter

Master Police Officer John Reynolds

Winter Park’s Finest changed their dress code for the holidays. Unaccustomed facial hair on the men and festive fingernails on the women celebrate “No Shave, Pretty Nails December.” 

Unfortunately, the reason is not all mistletoe and holly and it is anything but jolly. This is a fundraising effort on behalf of Master Police Officer John Reynolds, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer last spring. Many Winter Parkers know this 47-year-old husband and father of two as a Resource Officer at Lakemont Elementary School. Reynolds is a 15-year veteran on the Winter Park Police Force and well liked in the community.

He needs our help.

His earlier treatments were not effective, so Officer Reynolds now must travel to New York for treatment. The treatments are every other week, and travel expenses for Reynolds and his wife are not covered by insurance.

“This is a long road for the family,” said newly-bearded Police Chief Michael Deal. “They just hit a new deductible in October – and the travel will not be covered. We are doing our best to help the family – and we sure could use some help from the community.”

To support Officer John Reynolds, please click here:

https://www.gofundme.com/fnncmt-help-john-kick-cancer

You may also send donations to Officer John Reynolds c/o Captain Pam Marcum, Winter Park
Police Department, 500 N. Virginia Drive, Winter Park FL 32789.

2019 Commission Hopefuls

Cooper, Weldon & Weaver . . . so far

2019 Commission Hopefuls


Although it won’t begin in earnest until after the holidays, rumblings are already audible.

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper, Seat #3, Commissioner Peter Weldon, Seat #4 and challenger Todd Weaver have all declared their intention to run for Winter Park City Commission.

Weldon, originally elected in 2016, will seek a second term. Long-time Winter Park resident Todd Weaver will challenge Weldon in the race for Seat #4.

To date, no challenger has announced opposition to Carolyn Cooper in the race for Seat #3. Cooper is seeking a fourth and final term. Commissioners’ service is limited to four 3-year terms in office.

There is plenty of time for a challenger to make his or her intentions known. The official filing dates to run for Winter Park Commission are January 17 – 22, 2019.

The election is March 12, 2019.

Saving Winter Park’s Unique Character

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

Saving Winter Park’s Unique Character

Guest Columnist Bob Bendick

Winter Park is becoming an island in a sea of urban sprawl.

I was reminded of this a couple of days after the recent forum on the future of Winter Park at Rollins College, when I drove to St Petersburg for a meeting. There was a lot of traffic both going and returning, but It was not just the time lost sitting bumper to bumper that made the day tiring–it was also the scale and pace of the I-4 corridor which is quickly becoming one almost-continuous 100-mile wide urbanized area.

The day’s drive and my relief in arriving back in Winter Park, and taking a walk with the evening clouds reflected in Lake Virginia, made me think more about the Rollins forum.

What is it about Winter Park that still makes it such a good place to live? From my perspective five positive attributes of our city were highlighted at the forum by the presentations of the panelists and the question and answer session that followed.

Winter Park retains a human scale

Winter Park was originally planned and continues to retain a comfortable human scale, in contrast to the increasingly large and impersonal scale of the surrounding metro area — think ten lanes of rushing traffic on the soon-to-be-completed widening of I-4.

Greenspace, lakes and trees connect people and nature

Greenspace, lakes and trees bring people into contact with nature in every part of our city. The tree canopy reduces air pollution and traffic noise. Views of the lakes are everywhere, and our parks are heavily used.

There are many opportunities for walking and biking within the city

It is possible and enjoyable to walk or bike in Winter Park, particularly to and around the downtown area. Where heavily trafficked roads decrease walkability, like the 17-92 and Fairbanks/Aloma corridors, the quality of the Winter Park experience is diminished.

Winter Park has a sense of place and history including a vibrant town center

Unlike so much of Florida today, Winter Park is not generic. It has a coherent history that is reflected in its architecture and, particularly, in Rollins College and its downtown. It conveys a sense of place — not just anyplace.

The city is a diverse community

Winter Park thankfully retains racial and ethnic diversity, which enriches the life and culture of the city. It is still a community with events that bring people together in shared experiences.
As is the case in other places around the country that have managed to retain a distinctive grace and character, people want to move here.

Winter Park is at a crossroads.

The pressure for more development and redevelopment is not necessarily negative unless that growth undermines those attributes that make the community a good and unique place to live and work. Winter Park can accommodate growth and change while planning on a community-wide basis to retain the assets that make it unique.

We need to add greenspace to balance growth

This means adding and connecting greenspace as the city grows, ensuring that new development is consistent with the scale and character of the city, resisting and, where possible, mitigating the impacts of heavily trafficked transportation corridors on our quality of life. It means creating new opportunities for alternatives to automobiles, consciously acting to retain the diversity of the community, and reinforcing the vitality of our downtown.

Planning for investment in the City will foster a robust economy

The experience of similar communities is that planning for public and private investment that further enhances the city’s character will not diminish the city’s economy, but will make it that much more attractive for quality development. Perhaps more importantly, respecting the unique assets identified by the Rollins College panel will help ensure that Winter Park will still feel like home to the generations of residents who follow us.

Rollins Panel on WP Future Draws Capacity Crowd

Rollins Panel on WP Future Draws Capacity Crowd

A standing-room-only crowd filled Rollins’ Suntrust Auditorium last night as panelists engaged the audience in a lively discussion about Winter Park’s future.

An audience of Winter Park residents and Rollins students joined panelists, former Commissioner Pam Peters, Entrepreneur Steve Goldman, Architect Phil Kean and Mayor Steve Leary, to explore how our city will navigate the opportunities and the issues facing it now and in the years to come.

Videos are in two parts, below, and last about an hour total.

Parking Code Gets the Green Light

Applies to Park Ave. CBD, New England Ave. in Hannibal Square & Orange Ave. Corridor

Parking Code Gets the Green Light

Commissioners voted Monday, Oct. 22, to approve the revised parking code proposed by the City Planning Department on the first reading. The second and final reading is scheduled for the November 12 meeting.

Code revisions apply specifically to the Central Business District (CBD) along the Park Avenue corridor, the New England Avenue commercial portion of the Hannibal Square neighborhood and the Orange Avenue corridor. The revised codes are the culmination of more than a year’s work by parking consultant Kimley-Horn.

No ‘Fee-in-Lieu’

Originally, the revised ordinance contained six elements. Before their discussion commenced, however, Commissioners excluded the element that would have created a fee-in-lieu of parking, whereby a property owner could pay for required parking within a city-owned parking facility without actually having to provide dedicated parking spaces at their property. This has the effect of leveling the playing field, eliminating any advantage wealthier developers might have over less wealthy ones.

Summary of Major Changes

Under the new ordinance, anyone converting retail or office space to restaurant use in any of these areas, including Park Avenue, must provide the increased parking required for restaurant use.

The ordinance would change the distance permitted for off-site parking from 300 feet to 750 feet. To walk 750 feet takes about five minutes.

The ordinance provides for the use of the Urban Land Institute’s Shared Parking analysis as a reference for determining when and how shared parking will be permitted.

Parking requirements for new retail and general office space will change from four spaces per 1,000 square feet to three spaces per 1,000 square feet.

Finally, parking requirements for large office buildings will be four spaces per 1,000 square feet for the first 20,000 square feet of the building, then will transition to three spaces per 1,000 square feet for all floor area in excess of 20,000 square feet.

‘Grandfather’ Clause

The ordinance will include a “vesting provision,” so that anyone already in the process of designing a project who submits site plans and/or floor plans for City approval by the date of adoption of the ordinance can continue under the current parking code, provided they apply for a building permit by Dec. 31, 2018, and begin construction by March 1, 2019.

Traffic Increase Zooms Toward Lee Road

Traffic Studies Show, Better to Place Horse in Front of Cart

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

Traffic Increase Zooms Toward Lee Road

Guest Columnist Todd Weaver

Change is inevitable. The only thing we can control is the rate of change, and the important thing is how we manage that change rate. The Ravaudage development is set to bring major change to Lee Road at 17-92. How well is the City equipped to manage the change and the rate at which that change happens in this sector of Winter Park? Especially relevant: are the roads equipped to handle the increased traffic this development will generate?

Monday, the Winter Park City Commission will address another round of variance requests, building plans and setback deviations submitted by Dan Bellows, the developer of the ever-expanding Ravaudage juggernaut.

The Development Review Committee (DRC), consisting of highly-skilled staffers from City departments involved in the review and approval of site or building development projects, met last week to discuss these requests. With some conditions, all the requests were approved and will go to the Commission on Monday.

Requests for Setbacks, Waivers & Variances Abound

One request is for a zero-foot setback for a 6- to 8-story office building just west of Peacock Ford. This large office building, which will become the view from the single-family lakefront homes across the street in Maitland, is but a single element in a development that will include two major hotels, the rack-‘em-and-stack-‘em apartment buildings currently under construction, a retirement home and a host of other smaller out-buildings that will house restaurants, shops and smaller offices.

What’s the Plan to Handle the Increased Traffic?

Solutions to handle the sharp increase in traffic this out-of-scale development will generate are still on the drawing board. The Planned Development (PD) agreement with Orange County, negotiated prior to this PD’s re-annexation into Winter Park, includes alignment of Bennett Avenue and Executive Drive with an FDOT-approved traffic light on Lee Road.

Send the Traffic Through K-Mart Plaza?

The developer asked the DRC to waive the requirement for the alignment, because it would cause him to lose approximately half an acre at that intersection that he could otherwise develop. Bellows floated the idea of positioning the traffic light to move traffic through the former K-Mart plaza. Due to the complexity of adding a traffic light on a State road, the requirement to align Bennet and Executive was postponed for an additional year for further study. It could be years before traffic at this critical intersection will receive the direction it needs.

17-92 Design Modifications Years Out

A design modification to 17-92 to resolve the bike and pedestrian connectivity in the area is in the works, but that design is at the 60 percent level and rests entirely in FDOT hands. The modifications do not increase the number of motorized vehicle travel lanes. The construction completion date is uncertain, but years off.

No Plans for Lynx Terminal or Firehouse

Other conditions required of the Ravaudage PD were a Lynx terminal and a firehouse. Those two seem easier, but neither appears in the current plans.

Meanwhile, Back at Orange Avenue . . .

At the same time, City officials are pushing for high-intensity redevelopment along Orange Avenue, complete with an additional Sunrail station. A new station is a good idea if funding is available, but shouldn’t we consider a rail station at Ravaudage first?

How Will Traffic Increase Benefit Winter Park?

Just because the traffic statistics floated by City officials show our traffic numbers haven’t increased in 18 years, should we buy into the notion that a significant increase in traffic will be a boon for Winter Park?

Add to the rapid infill of giant apartment complexes in Maitland the proposal for 562 residential units, 320 hotel rooms and 1,254,357 square feet of commercial and office space at Ravaudage. Then ask yourself: how will the imminent explosion of traffic benefit residents or legacy businesses?

A change is in order, but the rate of change is out of control. Mr. Bellows was granted his entitlements from Orange County. Is it Winter Park’s responsibility or in Winter Park’s best interest to dole out more before the traffic infrastructure is in place?

Winter Park needs to put the transportation horse out in front of the Ravaudage cart.

 

Todd Weaver is a semi-retired aerospace engineer, engineering consultant and company president who has lived in his Winter Park home for 22 years.

We Can’t Hear You!

Open Letter to the City of Winter Park

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

We Can’t Hear You!

Guest Columnist Jim Fitch

The September 24 Winter Park Commission meeting was an embarrassment to the City of Winter Park. Taxpayers, who fund all City operations one way or another, attend these meetings in order to be informed. The City needs to be more respectful of citizens whose taxes keep the City running and whose votes elect the Commission.

Hearing & Seeing = Believing

It is very difficult for those of us who regularly attend the twice-monthly Commission meetings to hear, to see or to understand the proceedings. It is hard to believe this is intentional – even when controversial topics like The Canopy are being discussed.

Full Names, Please

City staff making presentations frequently fail to state their full names and positions. They are known to the Commission (e.g., “Troy”), but there is often a failure to inform the audience. Most presenters address their remarks to the Commissioners and not to the public.

Don’t Ignore the Microphones

The Mayor mumbles, the City Manager mumbles and Commissioners Seidel and Cooper do not speak into their microphones. The result is that the audience must strain to hear the discussion – and is completely left out of the side banter between Mayor Leary and Commissioner Sprinkel. Only Commissioners Sprinkel and Weldon speak clearly enough to be understood.

Make the Visuals Visible

Even though the Commissioners have laptops and document packets in front of them, they sometimes seem ill-informed about what is going on. Document screen shots projected for the public are, more often than not, too small to be legible. No laser pointers are used – Mayor Leary says it would only cover one of the two screens.

If the presenter’s lectern were placed in the center of the room in front of the dais, the presenter could use a laser pointer on both screens.

Appoint a ‘Listener’

The City should also place a listener at the back of the chamber to monitor audio levels and alert the Commissioners and presenters when their remarks cannot be heard. Presenters and Commissioners alike should pay attention to the public when people in the audience signal that they cannot hear.

We Need New Mikes

The City should invest in higher quality wide angle microphones or individual lavalier microphones, rather than the uni-directional ones now in use, so that the official discussion, as well as the side banter, is clearly audible to the audience.

If It’s a Public Meeting, Citizens Deserve to Be Able to Hear & See
Not only are the current practices disrespectful to the citizens of Winter Park, they are a violation of the Sunshine Law. This is an easy fix – please do something to correct this situation.