Hannibal Square Historian Honored

Fairolyn Livingston Receives Cheney Award from Central FL Historical Society

Hannibal Square Historian Honored

November 5 was a great day for Winter Park when the Historical Society of Central Florida bestowed the 2019 Cheney Award on Fairolyn Livingston, Chief Historian at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center.

The Cheney Award is named for Judge Donald A. Cheney (1889 – 1983) who founded the Orange County Historical Society and the Orange County Historical Museum, predecessors of the current Historical Society and the Orange County Regional History Center. History Center Spokesperson Amanda Henry explained that The Cheney Award was created, “to recognize and honor those who have not chosen between the past and the future – but who understand the two are inseparable.”

“The award,” said Henry, “reminds us all of our champions of the Central Florida community who embody a love, reverence and unfailing dedication for our area’s history.”

Past Cheney Award recipients include the Orlando Sentinel’s Joy Wallace Dickinson (2013), Joseph Wittenstein of Rollins (2017) and James W. “Chief” Wilson (2018).

Fairolyn was honored for her work as Chief Historian at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, where she has used her extensive research to enhance the permanent collection there. She has conducted interviews and written text for numerous exhibits, including the Center’s unique timeline installation, which juxtaposes significant events in local and national African American history.

She is a founding member of the team of documentarians, scholars and residents who in 2002  established the award winning show, The Heritage Collection: Photographs and Oral Histories of West Winter Park. This museum-quality documentary about the residents and history of Hannibal Square has been on permanent display since 2007, when the Heritage Center was established.

Fairolyn now devotes her time to the ongoing expansion of the Hannibal Square Heritage Center’s permanent collection, which includes “The Heritage Collection Phase IX: Hannibal Square Heroes (2017) and two phases of “The Sage Project: Hannibal Square Elders Tell Their Stories.”

The Cheney Award is only the latest in Fairolyn’s list of honors. She has received numerous awards and has shared the Hannibal Square community’s vibrant history with audiences across the state. In 2018, Winter Park Magazine recognized Fairolyn as one of Winter Park’s “Most Influential Citizens” for her contributions to understanding and preserving Central Florida’s history.

“Fairolyn Livingston’s invaluable research and outreach work have filled in many once-overlooked and under-appreciated chapters about a vital, important community centered around Hannibal Square in Winter Park,” said Orange County Historical Society Executive Director Michael Perkins. “We’re honored to present her with this award for her many contributions.”

 

Can an Old House Weather This Storm?

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

Can an Old House Weather This Storm?

Guest Columnist John Skolfield

The Waddell House at 1331 Aloma Avenue was built in 1901, the year Walt Disney, Ed Sullivan and Louis Armstrong were born, the year President William McKinley was assassinated and Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th U.S. President. Hurricane Donna may have roughed up the old house in 1960, but she stood firm and hardly blinked at the Cuban missile crisis. In the end, however, she was no match for the Tennessee attorney who sheared off her façade — the intricate porch design that had been the face of this grande dame for more than 100 years.

Historic Designation in 2005

In 2005, Charles B. and Lurinda J. Smith had the home placed on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places. Mrs. Smith’s family had owned the Waddell House for well over 100 years. This act was intended to bring peace of mind and the assurance the house would be preserved and protected.

Situated on 45,600 square feet of land, historic designation allowed the Smiths to subdivide a 90-foot lot on the east, while preventing further lot splits by future owners. The Smiths could have razed the old house and, with city approval, split the lot into three 15,200 square-foot home sites. They chose instead to preserve a bit of history.

New Owners in 2019

In February 2019, fully aware of the designated historic status and the protections this provided, David and Deborah Dunaway purchased the home for $480,000. According to an email from City Planning Manager Jeff Briggs, the Dunaways met with City staff to confirm their intention to restore the home. They indicated the porch was unstable and that they planned to remove and replace it exactly like it was. Staff advised that before they could do that, their plans had to go to the Historic Preservation Board for approval.

Porches Removed Within the Year

On the weekend of July 8, however, the Dunaways applied for a permit to remove the porches, and rather than wait for the permit to be granted, they had the front and rear porches removed without a permit on the weekend of July 13-14, just before they returned to their home in Tennessee.

City Issues Stop Work Order

On Monday July 15, the Building Department issued a Stop Work Order and directed the owners to submit plans for the restoration of the porches. A tarp had been draped over the roof, but it was improperly secured, and by mid-September, the house had endured two months of water intrusion — a house with horsehair plaster walls and heart of pine floors. Briggs emailed the owners, who said they would correct the problem, but by October 7, nothing had been done to secure the tarp to prevent water intrusion. There was no reply from the Dunaways.

‘Don’t Think We Can Fix It’

Briggs wrote that the owner later said he has retained the services of Orlando Constructors and Inspectors, “to do a complete appraisal of the structural integrity of the home to determine if repairs are possible and feasible or if the home needs to be demolished.”

The neglect of the house appears to be strategic.

City Ordinance Requires Reconstruction

On Tuesday, October 29, I met with City Manager Randy Knight, Assistant City Manager Michelle Neuner, City Planning Manager Jeff Briggs, Director of Planning and Community Development Bronce Stephenson, and historic preservation expert Christine Dalton. They confirmed that City zoning code, Section 58-500, requires the historically accurate reconstruction of the removed porches and provides for heavy penalties for illegal removal.

Demolition by Neglect

In an email to Jeff Briggs, Christine Dalton, formerly Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Sanford and currently a Trustee of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, expressed her concern about the condition of the Waddel house. “With the information I have received so far,” she wrote, “it appears obvious that the property owners are engaging in Demolition by Neglect. They are dismantling the home and have not properly protected it from the elements. As you know, this is a strategy of many property investors – create conditions for deterioration, then hire a structural engineer to write a report stating that the building is unsafe and therefore must be demolished.”

Case Goes to Code Enforcement Board Dec. 5

On November 1, the City sent the owners a Notice of Violation advising them that a Public Hearing before the Code Enforcement Board was scheduled for 3:00 pm on December 5, 2019. The description of the violation was “Porch Structure Removed Illegally Without a Permit.”

Stated Compliance Requirements were, “Submit Plans for the Restoration of the Porch Removed Without a Permit,” with a deadline of November 15, 2019.

According to Briggs, “Nothing can happen with the home until a proposal/plans are submitted to the HPB [Historic Preservation Board], or (upon appeal) the City Commission can approve the demolition of the home.”

 

 

In Memory: Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H

October 28, 2019 – by Rob Humphreys ’16MBA

In Memory: Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H

This article originally appeared on Rollins360, Rollins College’s news site. It is republished here with permission.

Rollins’ 12th president was magical in every  sense of the word.

Photo by Scott CookPhoto by Scott Cook

Waiting in the checkout line at Publix stood a giant man with a giant penchant to charm just about anyone he met, in any capacity, at any time.

Introducing himself to the 7-year-old daughter of a friend, “Taddeo the Great” reached down, flashed a big smile, did a little hocus pocus, and poof—pulled a shiny coin from the girl’s ear.

The child’s eyes, her father recalled, “got about as big as that half-dollar.”

Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, Rollins’ 12th president from 1978 to 1990, possessed a genuine brand of magic that touched countless lives, from students and families to faculty, staff, and the greater Orlando community. A beloved campus icon, accomplished magician, public servant, and academic visionary who returned the College to its liberal arts roots—while famously reinstating Fox Day—Seymour died this past Saturday, October 26, at his Winter Park home. He was 91.

“Thad was a great man and a great president,” says Allan Keen ’70 ’71MBA ’10H, a member of the board of trustees since Seymour appointed him in 1989. It was Keen’s daughter, Kristen ’20 PMBA, who pocketed the 50-cent piece that day at the grocery store. “Thad had a bigger-than-life personality,” continues Keen, “and he elevated Rollins to new heights.”

Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H was president of Rollins College from 1978 to 1990. Photo courtesy Rollins College Archives.
Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H was president of Rollins College from 1978 to 1990. Photo courtesy Rollins College Archives.

Destined for Greatness

Born June 29, 1928, in New York City to Lola Virginia Vickers and Whitney North Seymour, assistant solicitor general in the Hoover administration and later president of the American Bar Association, Seymour attended Princeton and the University of California, Berkeley as an undergraduate.

A lifelong athlete who hit the gym well into his 80s, Seymour—at a muscular 6 feet, 5 inches—competed in the U.S. rowing trials for the 1948 Olympics.

After earning his master’s and PhD in 18th-century English literature from the University of North Carolina, he taught English for five years at Dartmouth, where he coached rowing and became dean of students at age 30. Prior to Rollins, he was president of Wabash College in Indiana for nine years.

“The Seymour presidency proved to be a turning point in Rollins’ history,” writes Jack C. Lane, emeritus professor of American history and college historian, in Rollins College Centennial History. “At a time when the college community was somewhat adrift, or at best standing still, Seymour instilled in the College a revived enthusiasm and provided a sense of continuity and gave it a new sense of direction. … Rollins, he proclaimed, must ‘return to its roots. Our aim is to know ourselves and to be known by others as the finest small liberal arts college in the Southeast, standing among the finest colleges in the country.’”

Thanks in large part to Seymour’s vision, Rollins has been recognized as the No. 1 or 2 regional university in the South for the past 25 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report, among numerous other accolades.

Photos courtesy Rollins College Archives
Photos courtesy Rollins College Archives

Firmly Establishing an Identity

In one of his earliest acts on campus, Seymour established a College Planning Committee, chaired by Daniel R. DeNicola, professor of philosophy. After 18 months, the committee produced a 500-page comprehensive plan focusing on institutional mission and structure; divisional objectives; the allocation of funds, physical resources, and personnel; and the 1985 centennial.

Through that lens, Lane writes, “the College began firmly establishing that its identity and future lay with its historical liberal education mission.” Rollins revived its dormant Department of Classics and once again issued diplomas in Latin. To the delight of students, Fox Day returned as well. First celebrated in 1956, the random spring day deemed “too pretty to have class” had been on hiatus since 1970, but Rollins’ new president was more than enthusiastic to revive the tradition in 1979.

During Seymour’s tenure, Rollins considerably raised faculty salaries, rededicated the Walk of Fame, built the Olin Library and Cornell Hall for the Sciences, and renovated Pinehurst Cottage, placing it on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places. Administratively, two of his most important hires were Dean of Admissions David Erdmann and Treasurer Jesse Morgan; together, they helped the College achieve greater financial stability by increasing enrollment, eliminating operating deficits, and overhauling bill collection and investment procedures.

“While the College had historically experienced periods of financial stress, I don’t recall any sleepless nights during his presidency,” says Harold A. Ward III, who served on the board of trustees as a member and chairman while Seymour was in office.

“It was apparent to me from the beginning that working with Thad was going to be both rewarding and a lot of fun. Perhaps it helped that he was part of a family of lawyers, but more likely it was a combination of his remarkable personality and intellect. Another vital part of his presidency was his wife, Polly, who was always involved with the College and the community, and a tremendous support for him and the entire institution.”

Ward described Seymour as a student-centered president adept at winning over constituents from all walks of life: faculty, trustees, alumni, staff, donors, potential donors, and, sometimes, angry members of the community.

“An early challenge,” explains Ward, “was the presentation at the Annie Russell Theatre of the play Equus, which included a scene involving a nude male actor. There were considerable differences of opinion about the appropriate presidential action (or inaction) that should be taken. Thad somehow managed to calm the waters by shifting the focus to the broader issues, such as the desirability of student involvement and freedom of expression. In the end, the play went on, and most of the furor subsided.”

Photo courtesy Rollins College Archives
Photo courtesy Rollins College Archives

Presidential Acclaim

For all his professional and academic talents, Seymour’s most enduring legacy lies squarely in the human domain.

Rollins’ current and 15th president, Grant Cornwell, called him a friend and mentor from the moment they met.

“It was so good to be able to talk about the history of Rollins and current issues with someone who shared a love for the College and profound optimism for its future,” says Cornwell. “I valued Thad as a wise counselor and as one of the kindest, most good-hearted people I have ever known.”

Rita Bornstein, Rollins’ 13th president from 1990 to 2004, always admired how Seymour led by example, whether casually picking up garbage around campus or actively serving the community, most often well outside the media spotlight. When she arrived on campus, Seymour rang chapel bells, posted “Welcome Rita” signs, and threw a party at his home.

“Lion of a man and lion of a president,” says Bornstein. “He thought big, he acted big, and he had big ideas and ambitions. He was ebullient, enthusiastic, kind, generous, fun-loving. He always made me feel optimistic. I think that is true for all who know him. Thad loved ceremony, ritual, history, anniversaries. Often, he engaged the community to participate with the College. He committed himself totally and struggled valiantly to pull and push Rollins to be better and better.”

Former Rollins presidents Jack Critchfield, Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, Rita Bornstein ’04H, and Lewis Duncan at the inauguration of Rollins’ President Grant Cornwell. Photo by Scott Cook.Former Rollins presidents Jack Critchfield, Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, Rita Bornstein ’04H, and Lewis Duncan at the inauguration of Rollins’ President Grant Cornwell. Photo by Scott Cook.

So Much Left to Give

When Seymour stepped down in the spring of 1990, Rollins’ alumni magazine devoted 16 pages to the president they dubbed “A Man for All Reasons.” Taking a cue from Seymour’s self-deprecating wit, the secondary headline deadpanned, “Being Not an Historical Narrative but Rather an Anecdotal Account of Thaddeus Seymour, Some College President!”

Even though his tenure at the top had come to a close, that didn’t stop Seymour from channeling his boundless energy into serving the College and the community in other capacities. From 1992 to 2008, he returned to his academic roots by teaching English part-time.

Not surprisingly, “retirement” also allowed him to develop close ties with the Winter Park Public Library, serving as its chair from 1996 to 1998 and helping Polly with her favorite volunteer project, the library’s New Leaf Bookstore, now named in her honor. In 1997, the chamber of commerce named the couple Winter Park Citizens of the Year.

Seymour’s altruism carried over into several additional passions, including independent transportation for older adults, the Winter Park Health Foundation, and working to save the city’s historic Capen-Showalter House. His longest-serving volunteer work, however, started in the late 1980s when Hal George ’76, founder and master builder for Parkland Homes, approached him about becoming chairman of Habitat for Humanity’s new Winter Park-Maitland chapter. It was a position Seymour would never relinquish.

“Thad was not a figurehead by any means,” says George, who still serves as Habitat’s president. “He was very involved … the best kind of leader you could have. He rolled his sleeves up and come out to the job sites. He’d bring his family out, and Polly would make curtains for our new families at our dedications. Here’s this big guy with a booming voice who never needed a microphone. He really led with enthusiasm and passion, encouraging people all the way. He was the kind of person who made you a better person just being around him.”

George got a kick out of how Seymour, ever the technology buff, maintained the Habitat webpage and taught him how to use an iPhone. “The first thing he did was load a program that made it look like you were pouring a beer.”

Remembering Thad Seymour

Seymour is survived by Polly, his wife of 71 years, and their four children: Liz, Thaddeus Jr., Sam, and Abigail.

The couple’s daughter, Mary Seymour, died in 2015.

A celebration of Seymour’s life will be held at Knowles Chapel on the Rollins College campus at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 3. A reception will follow. For those who are unable to attend, the service will be streamed live on the Office of the President website.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Dr. Seymour’s honor be made to Rollins College (P.O. Box 864168, Orlando, FL 32886-4168) or Habitat for Humanity of Winter Park-Maitland (P.O. Box 1196, Winter Park, FL 32790-1196).

Talk to Hotel Developer – Farmers Market Event Tonight

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

Talk to Hotel Developer – Farmers Market Event Tonight

Talk to Hotel Developer – Farmers Market Event Tonight

This evening at 6:00 to 7:00 pm at the Farmer’s Market, developer Adam Wonus will be available to answer questions about the proposed Henderson Hotel.

 

Opinion by Adam Wonus, Developer of the Henderson Hotel at Lake Killarney

The Henderson Hotel at Lake Killarney takes its name from the Henderson family who owned and operated the Lake Shore Motel on the site next to the proposed Henderson Hotel at Lake Killarney. The proposed hotel site consists of approximately 2.6 acres of lakefront property. As with any new project, there are questions and concerns. Below are answers to some of the questions I have received.

  1. Will the Hotel Provide Lake Access to Its Guests? We will not. We will post signs warning guests to stay out of the lake. The four docks currently on the site will be replaced by a single dock, available for photos and there for people who want to enjoy the view. There will be no watercraft access to the lake from the hotel property.
  2. How will the Hotel Look from 17-92 and Lake Killarney? The Hotel façade on 17-92 is one story. The east and west sides of the hotel step back, increasing in height, to keep the greatest building height in the middle of the property. The hotel is set back at least 90 feet from the lake shoreline and is only two stories in height at the point closest to the shoreline and nearby homes.
  3. What is the size and height of the Hotel and how does that compare to the Alfond? Our architects, Baker Barrios, also designed the Alfond Inn, and we seek to emulate the quality of the Alfond. We have limited the number of rooms to 118, similar to the room count of the Alfond when it was first constructed with 112 rooms. The height is similar to the Alfond (64’-2”) — The Henderson Hotel is 65’-3”. There is an architectural feature designed to give the hotel an historical feel that extends past 65’ as seen in the rendering.
  4. Why are you Vacating a Portion of Fairview Ave? The Killarney neighborhood has a problem with cut-through traffic. We have provided a traffic study from Kimley-Horn, whose engineers have offered several recommendations to help alleviate the increased traffic flow through the community. One suggestion was to create a roundabout at Fairview Ave. blocking access to non-residents drivers. We have offered to pay for this portion of the improvement should the neighbors want to utilize this option. Ultimately, the Killarney neighbors will decide the traffic solution based on what works best for their neighborhood.
  5. What will the impact be to the Lake? The proposed hotel will help clean up Lake Killarney in several important ways. First, we will provide an exfiltration system to treat the storm water. We have committed to the City to install a filter on the existing outfall structure. Presently, untreated storm water is gathered from 17-92 and directed into Lake Killarney. The filter will remove trash and debris that currently flow into the lake from the road. Our engineer and landscape architect will create bio-swales to treat storm water near the lake. We also plan to remove the invasive species along the lakeshore and replant the littoral zone with native species.

A hotel should be more than just a place to lay your head. It should be an important part of the culture of a city and should contribute to the history of the city in a particular period of time. The Henderson Hotel seeks the opportunity to do just that.

The Henderson Hotel at Lake Killarney

What’s Going On There?

The Henderson Hotel at Lake Killarney

There is a great deal of information flying around about the 118-room Victorian style hotel proposed for a site on 17-92 that fronts on Lake Kilarney. Several meetings are scheduled for this week and next that should shed some light on what is actually happening. If this is a project that affects you – or just interests you – plan to attend one or more of the following meetings.

Tuesday, Oct. 29 — Planning & Zoning Work Session, Noon, Commission Chambers

The P&Z Board will discuss the zoning changes and conditional use requests for the proposed hotel. This is for informational purposes only. The board members will take no votes and hear no public comment – but the meeting should be informative.

Wednesday, Oct. 30 – Developer’s Information Session, 6 – 7 pm, Farmer’s Market

The developer, Adam Wonus, will host a Q&A and show the latest concept drawings at the Farmer’s Market. If you have questions about the project, here’s your chance to ask. Word on the street is the neighbors, not all of whom favor the project, plan to be in attendance.

Tuesday, Nov. 5 – Planning & Zoning Board Meeting, 6 pm, Commission Chambers

This will be the formal P&Z hearing, where the board will vote on whether or not to move the Henderson Hotel project ahead to the Commission in late November. Votes will be taken and public comment will be heard.

If It's Broken, Fix It

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

If It’s Broken, Fix It

Guest Columnist Robert S. Lemon, Jr.

Unless you avoid all social media you’ve probably seen a confusing e-mail blast titled Should Winter Park Have a Mayor?  Perhaps you were as mystified by the click-bait as I was.  Is Winter Park contemplating getting rid of the position of Mayor? Who would run the Commission meetings or light the Christmas tree? 

Fear not. Winter Park will have a Mayor. But our Mayor’s responsibilities need to be better defined. Only once every ten years do we, as citizens, get a chance to do that. That’s when we review the City Charter, the document that defines our system of government.

Winter Park, along with 128 other Florida cities with a population over 10,000, has a “council-manager” form of government. According to the National League of Cities, in this form of government, the city council (in our case the Commission) makes policy, sets the budget and appoints a city manager to oversee the day-to-day operations of the city. 

Mayor’s Role

The City Charter also defines the role of Mayor. Most City Charters use language to specifically limit the Mayor’s additional powers to some version of the following.

Presides at meetings of the Commission      

Recognized as head of government for ceremonial purposes

Recognized by the Governor for martial law

Signs deeds and other official government documents

Executes contracts

The Winter Park City Charter’s language also suggests that the Mayor be granted the privilege of appointing the members of all city advisory boards. Only 10 Florida cities — fewer than 8 percent — have bestowed this power on their Mayors. 

Advisory Board Appointments

Why have other Florida cities decided not to use their Charters to grant the Mayor the exclusive right to make board appointments?  Perhaps because they recognize that opening the opportunity for board appointments to all Commissioners leads to better greater diversity of talent and ideas and, therefore, to better governance.

Think about it. Opening the process to all Commissioners will lead to:

            More inclusive boards. Currently there is not one person of color on any of the citizen advisory boards. Serving on boards is often viewed as a path to elected office, where service on one or more advisory boards provides much needed experience to a new Commissioner.

            More diverse opinions.  The Commissioners rely on the advisory boards to help form policy. All Commissioners should have a seat at the table in the appointment process. Currently they can only vote up or down an entire slate of appointees, all chosen by the Mayor.

            Tapping into more talent.  As former Commissioner Phil Anderson wrote, “Winter Park is blessed with a vast pool of talent willing to serve on boards.”  Yet unless qualified citizens who apply for appointments to boards belong to the right political camp, their applications may never even be acknowledged. While, at the same time, there is a fairly select group of people who, year after year, cycle from one board to another, to another.   

If you agree that it is time for Winter Park to join the other Florida cities and strike the Mayor’s exclusive power for board appointments from our City Charter, please write to mayorandcommissioners@cityofwinterpark.org. Today.

It’s that simple. Just remove a single line from our Charter:  “The mayor . . . shall annually appoint members of the city boards . . . .” And guess what – Winter Park will still have a Mayor. 

At tomorrow’s Commission Meeting, the Commissioners will take up the discussion of City Charter revisions. They will decide which issues will appear on the March 17 ballot – and which ones won’t. The meeting begins at 3:30 pm at City Hall. It’s important to be there and make our voices heard.

              

 

Last Call in Hannibal Square

Last Call in Hannibal Square

Last call for alcohol in Hannibal Square could soon stretch to 2:00 am, but people drinking after 10:00 pm will have to keep things down to a dull roar.

Hannibal Square Rules Would Be Same as the Rest of the City

Planning & Zoning voted October 1 to recommend two ordinances that would bring rules in Hannibal Square into line with those in the rest of the City. The first ordinance would extend hours for alcohol sales and consumption in Hannibal Square to 2:00 a.m., as it is in the rest of the City. The second would apply the same noise controls that exist within the Central Business District to Hannibal Square.

Hannibal Square restaurateurs, particularly Vincent Gagliano of Chez Vincent, have for years tried to persuade the City to bring the rules on last call into line with those governing the rest of the City. Currently, closing time in Hannibal Square is 11:00 pm Sunday through Thursday and Midnight Friday and Saturday. Closing time on Park Avenue and in the rest of the City is 2:00 am Monday through Saturday and Midnight on Sunday.

Early Closing Costs Hannibal Square Businesses

Gagliano and other restaurateurs complain that the 11:00 pm closing requirement sends Hannibal Square clientele over to Park Avenue to continue their revels, costing Hannibal Square establishments hours of potential business.

Residents Worried About Noise

In 1995, when the CRA revitalization of New England Avenue and Hannibal Square began, area residents at the time were concerned about noise from bars and restaurants.

CRA Wanted Restaurant, Not Night Club, District

While the CRA’s goal was to create a restaurant district but not a bar and nightclub district, one of the first establishments to locate in Hannibal Square was Dexter’s, where live music was an integral part of the business model. Bands played on week nights as well as on weekends and sometimes, in nice weather, they played outside. In deference to the neighbors, the City established earlier closing hours and strict noise controls for Hannibal Square.

Noise Regulations – Loud & Clear

According to City Planner Jeff Briggs, back in the 1980s, Park Avenue also had a noise problem in the evenings. The solution was an ordinance that created a violation if one could hear the sound from 50 feet away from an establishment. The ordinance recommended by P&Z prohibits “any person, business or establishment between the hours of 10:00 pm and 7:00 am to make noise that unreasonably disturbs the peace” and that is “. . .in excess of 50 dBA as measured with a sound level meter inside any receiving property.”

What this means is, if someone’s peace is being disturbed, he or she can call the police, who will bring their sound meter and, if the noise exceeds 50 dBA, ask the offending party to quiet down.

What’s in a Decibel?

Decibel levels, or dBA measurements, are meant to approximate the way the human ear hears sound. According to a local engineer familiar with this issue, a jet engine is 100 to110 dBA, a motor cycle with straight pipes produces 90 dBA, a vacuum cleaner about 70 dBA, normal conversation level in a restaurant is 50 – 60 dBA and a whisper is around 30 dBA.

Next Step is the Commission

As with any ordinance, there will be two hearings by the Commission. As of this writing, no date has been set.

 

October Action in Winter Park

City Hall and Elsewhere

October Action in Winter Park

Everyone’s gearing up for the Autumn Art Festival Oct. 12-13, hoping the weather will cooperate. It’s been pretty quiet, and the weekend forecast looks to be fair. Head over to Central Park to enjoy local artists, local music and local family fun. The Autumn Art Festival is the only juried fine art festival exclusively featuring Florida artists. The Festival is open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm both days, and admission is free.

It’s Still Hurricane Season

The Orlando Sentinel did remind us this morning that seven of the most destructive hurricanes to hit the U.S. arrived in October, so the season isn’t over. “It’s not time to guzzle your hurricane supplies yet,” wrote Sentinel reporter Joe Pedersen. Neither is it time to put away Winter Park’s Hurricane Preparedness Guide – soon, but not yet. https://issuu.com/cityofwinterpark/docs/hurricane_preparedness_guide?e=7314878/63055860

Musical Chairs at City Hall

October is typically the month when the Campaign Jungle Drums begin to rumble about who will run for office in the spring – or not – and for what. This year is no exception. Mayor Steve Leary announced in a September 17 press release that he had filed paperwork to run for Orange County Commission Seat #5, opposing incumbent Emily Bonilla.

Leary — Mayor until Nov. 30, 2020

According to now-retired City Clerk Cindy Bonham, as a candidate for Orange County Commission, Leary must submit his resignation as Winter Park Mayor on May 29, 2020, to be effective November 30, 2020. Leary can continue to serve as Mayor until November 30, 2020, but must step down December 1, 2020, whether or not he is elected to the Orange County Commission. “If he loses the County election,” wrote Bonham, “he would lose both the County and City seats. Someone would have to be appointed as Mayor until the March 2021 general election. . . .”

Sprinkel Will Run for Mayor

Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel has announced her intention not to run for re-election to Commission Seat #2 in 2020, so that she can run for Mayor in 2021. Winter Park Commissioners are limited to four terms – whether they serve as Mayor, Commissioner or a combination of the two. Since Sprinkel is currently serving her third term as Commissioner, she has only one term remaining – a term in which she would like to serve as Winter Park’s Mayor. She will, therefore, relinquish her Commission Seat #2 when her third term concludes.

Who Will Replace Sprinkel?  Who Will Oppose Seidel?

Commission Seats #1 and #2 are both up in 2020. Greg Seidel told the Voice that he will run for re-election to Seat #1.

Attorney and former Planning & Zoning Advisory Board member Sheila DeCiccio also has announced her intention to run for the Commission in Spring 2020. Word On The Street is that others are planning a Commission bid, but to date no one has gone public. Stay tuned.

October Schedule at City Hall

Here’s what’s going on at City Hall as of now. Things change, however, so check for the most current information here: https://cityofwinterpark.org/government/boards/

 

Coffee Talks

In addition to commissions, boards and task forces, we also have informal gatherings with City Officials, where you can let them know what you’re thinking and find out what they’re thinking.

The Mayor’s Coffee Talk was in July. Vice Mayor Greg Seidel’s was August 8, and Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel’s was September 9. The remaining Coffee Talks will be held 8:00 to 9:00 am at the Winter Park Golf and Country Club, 761 Old England Ave.

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper – October 10.

Commissioner Todd Weaver – November 14.

Charter Review -- Fast Track to Completion

Commission Will Deliberate, Voters Will Decide

Charter Review — Fast Track to Completion

The Charter Review Advisory Committee (CRC) wrapped up their report Friday, Sept. 20, at Noon. The report will go to the Commission on Monday, Sept. 23, at a 6:00 pm workshop following the regular Commission meeting.

Every 10 years, a committee of Winter Park citizens is assembled to review the City Charter and make updates to bring it into compliance with state and federal law and to eliminate archaic language. The last review was in 2009.

Charter Review Committee

The committee members were Steve Brandon, Marjorie Bridges, Lisa Coney, Mary Daniels, Amanda Day, James Johnston, Bud Kirk, Jr., Nick Pope and Lawrence Lyman. They had 10 two-hour meetings between April 23 and September 20, 2019, in which they reviewed the Charter, line-by-line, and recommended changes. Recommendations required a consensus threshold of 75 percent of the committee. Issues decided could be readdressed with the consent of 75 percent of the committee.

Led by Marilyn Crotty

Not only was there robust discussion among committee members, there was substantial time devoted to public comment both before and following the formal meetings. Facilitator Marilyn Crotty, who led the effort and who has had a long career as a facilitator for cities throughout Florida, stated that she observed more participation from Winter Park citizens than she had for any other city with which she had worked. She commended Winter Parkers for their extraordinary level of civic engagement.

Implementation Procedures

The Commission will have the weekend to review the CRC’s report. Following the regular Commission meeting Monday, the Commissioners and the committee members will have an informal workshop to discuss the committee’s recommendations. Although the Commission could decide otherwise, it is customary that during an informal workshop, such as the one Monday night, no decisions will be made and no public comment will be taken.

It will be an important meeting for concerned citizens to attend, however, to see which issues are discussed and to hear the tenor of the conversation.

First, the Commission

The Commission can decide to accept all, some or none of the CRC’s recommendations. Recommendations the Commission does accept will be placed on the ballot at the Presidential Preference Primary March 17, 2020. The procedure for that is as for anything placed on the ballot. The Commission will pass an ordinance that will include the ballot language through a process of two public hearings and an affirmative vote of a majority of Commissioners. Public notice and public comment will play leading roles in that process.

Then to the Ballot for a Decision by the Voters

At the September 20 committee meeting, Ms. Crotty estimated there could be as many as 19 separate recommendations to go on the ballot in March – a substantial amount of information for anyone to take in, especially in a Presidential Primary year when there are sure to be distractions.

Elaborate Voter Info Program Recommended

The CRC is recommending the City fund a community education program consisting, at a minimum, “. . . of access to copies of the proposed Charter changes, printed informational brochures, public forums, information on social media and the City website, and a speakers’ bureau to inform voters of the proposed changes.”

Hot Topics

During the committee meetings, the items that came up for discussion most frequently – and tended to be the most controversial – were the following four.

  1. Should Commissioners be elected from a geographic district rather than representing the citizens at large? Some believed districts might provide fairer representation for under-served communities, such as the West Side neighborhood. Others believed Winter Park is not large enough to warrant being divided up geographically. No consensus was reached on this issue, so it will not go forward as a recommendation from the committee, but Commissioners are still likely to hear about it.
  2. Should the Mayor have the sole authority to make appointments to Citizen Advisory Boards? Again, no consensus – five voted for, three against, one was absent – but the vote did not reach the required 75 percent consensus threshold. While a recommendation from the committee will not be forthcoming, this discussion too is probably far from over.
  3. How to ensure our local elections remain non-partisan? The difficulty here was crafting rules that are a) unambiguous and b) do not conflict with state and federal statutes and certain U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The committee recommends language prohibiting candidates from publicly advertising affiliation with any political party or accepting campaign contributions from any political party. It also provides for penalties for infractions.
  4. Increased compensation for Mayor and Commissioners. The committee is bringing its recommendation for base annual salaries for Commissioners of $12,600 and for the Mayor, $15,000. According to a table distributed by Marilyn Crotty, each Commissioner now receives $2,400 per year, and the Mayor receives $3,000.

Holding office entails a significant commitment of time and resources, and that can be a barrier for someone who has family obligations and is not self-employed, retired or independently wealthy. While no current Mayor or Commissioner would receive an increase, the increase would bring Winter Park compensation more in line with other cities in Central Florida. More important, the hope is that this increase would encourage a wider pool of potential future candidates to run for elected office.

Civil Service Board Survives

The committee was able to work through one topic — the possible elimination of the Civil Service Advisory Board – to avoid controversy. Suggested Charter language had the potential to eliminate the Civil Service Board, which forms a layer of protection between Police and Fire first responders and the more politically oriented City government. Instead of a Civil Service Advisory Board, the Charter would have mandated a Civil Service Code, (as yet, unwritten) which the Commission would adopt by Ordinance and which would govern first responders.

A Civil Service Code exists, but has not been updated for many years and is largely irrelevant. When asked about this, Police Chief Michael Deal told the Voice, “The Code is outdated and should be modernized, but the Board should remain intact. This keeps politics out of [first responder] work.”

Chief Deal went on to explain that nearly everything first responders do is governed by state law and state accreditation standards. “I am very happy in my job,” said Deal, “and the City Manager and the Commission are very supportive – they all let me do my job.”

“The issue is how the City functions,” he said, “not about the specific personalities involved. Right now, everything’s fine, but there could come a time when politics could enter in – which it doesn’t now – and that would not be appropriate.”

Chief Deal and City Manager Randy Knight have agreed to work together to update the Civil Service Code to meet today’s conditions. In the meantime — except in the highly unlikely event the Commission decides to abolish it — the Civil Service Advisory Board will remain.

 

 

The Canopy – Questions Remain

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

The Canopy – Questions Remain

Guest Columnist Marty Sullivan

The first anniversary of the conditional use approval of the Canopy project is coming up September 24, and shortly thereafter the Commission should receive the construction drawings, from which the City can finally calculate the “not-to-exceed” cost of the project.  Despite anticipation of these long-sought answers, questions remain.

The proposed Canopy project is a big deal for our City. Based on the history of our current library, we may have this public building for the next 40 years.

What Questions?

We have to ask: Is the design compatible with our City?  Is the library satisfactory in form and function to serve Winter Park citizens? Will the adjoining events center serve Winter Park’s needs for community events? Will the evolving cost fit within our budget? Will long-term maintenance and operation costs be acceptable? Will it be a desirable addition to Martin Luther King, Jr. recreational park? 

Let Your City Officials Hear From You

Your City leaders need to hear from you. Let your Commissioners know your thoughts on the proposed library and events center. There is no time to waste. Act now.

You can research the proposed Canopy library and events center on the City web site, https://cityofwinterpark.org/government/city-info/winter-park-canopy/

Narrow Margin Foretold Present Dilemma

In March 2016, we voted on a bond referendum for a new library. I expected a favorable landslide vote, because who isn’t in favor of a new library? The bond passed, despite controversy over vague plans and finalization of the building site. The final breakdown was 51 percent for and 49 percent against. The referendum passed by a margin of just 214 votes, foreshadowing the controversy that was sure to follow.

Initial Concept is Substantially Changed

Are the changes in building sizes from the initial concepts acceptable? The referendum language specified, “For the purpose of building the Winter Park Library and Events Center, to include library facilities, civic meeting and gathering facilities and related parking structure . . . .”

Voters were told there would be a 50,000-square-foot (sf) library, an 8,505 sf civic center and a 200-space parking garage (“Community Engagement Workshops,” ACi Architects, 10/26/2015).  

Now, the plans are for a 34,400 sf library and a 13,564 sf events center. The ‘associated parking structure’ has been replaced by surface parking (City Commission conditional use approval, 9/24/2018). The Canopy library is only 400 sf larger than the current library facility. Library staff cites efficient use of space, which compensates for the reduction in size, but is this library adequate for our citizens’ needs?

MLK Park Loses Trees and Green Space

Are changes to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park appropriate? The proposed structure will reduce the MLK park area by an estimated two acres, and the storm water treatment area must be expanded, although no specifications had been developed as of May 2019 (LandDesign engineers).

What Effect Will Tourism Dollars Have?

The City secured a $6 Million Tourist Development Tax (TDT) grant in return for making the Canopy Events Center available for international tourism. At the City’s presentation to the TDT grant board, City Manager Randy Knight was asked about the extent of Winter Park citizens’ use of the event center facility.  He responded that he thought Winter Park residents might use the facility during the week, but that the event center would be available on weekends for tourism activities.  Winter Park voters approved the bond referendum based on an event center with the purpose of “civic meeting and gathering facilities.” However, now the intended purpose seems to be an international tourism destination. (Presentation before Tourist Tax Grant Board 3/15/2019). 

No Hard Numbers, So Far

Cost estimates have been a moving target. To date, the City has provided only artistic renderings, and we are depending on bids based on construction drawings to derive hard costs.  The City’s official position on cost estimate is $40.5 million, coming from $28.7 Million in bonds, $6 Million TDT grant and $5.4 Million in private donations. The estimated total budget with contingencies is $43 Million.

How many private dollars should our community contribute to this one project? Are we draining resources away from other endeavors? We have other important projects on the horizon, many of which may require private sector support, such as plans for the post office site, new parks, city hall renovations and repurposing the old library site.

How high is too high?

What final figure will cause our City leaders to pause and rethink this project? Fifty Million? We’ve heard $55 Million. Commissioners need to tell us now what they consider an acceptable figure to move ahead with the Canopy.